Whenever Class D-2, No. 4 Cedar Valley needed a play, Skyler Erickson was there to deliver.
The Maverick senior pounded down 23 kills in helping them get past No. 5 Leyton 25-23, 25-11, 25-21 in the state tournament Thursday at Grand Island Central Catholic High School.
“She's a big player for us,” Cedar Valley coach Todd Beck said. “We talk to everyone on our team about doing their job but we know she's our go-to girl. She did a great job. But I thought our passers were able to get the ball to (setter) Lindsay (Lammers) so she could deliver a good ball.”
Leyton coach Jodi Craig said Erickson was one of the best players the Warriors had seen this year.
“We played them this summer at the Top Ten tournament in Kearney and that was all they had. We really had a hard time stopping her,” Craig said.
Erickson had her way in the opening set, helping Cedar Valley hold off a late Leyton rally. She had seven kills to help the Mavericks build a 20-13 lead before the Warriors rallied to within 20-19.
But Cedar Valley regained control and ended the first set on Erickson's ninth kill of the set.
The Mavericks took that momentum into the second set, building leads of 11-4 and 19-7 and never looking back.
The third set was a different story as the Warriors built a 15-7 lead. Rachael Ernest had two kills and an ace block during the run. Most of the points came with Erickson in the back row.
A Kara Donovan kill gave serve back to the Mavericks, which put Erickson back in the front row. With Brooke Behnk serving a 7-0 run tied the match at 15-all. Erickson produced five kills during her time in the front row, with her final one giving them an 18-17 and never gave it up. A Behnk kill ended the match.
To go along with Erickson's 23 kills, Jayden Erickson chipped in six kills for the Mavericks. Lammers produced 39 set assists for Cedar Valley. Kelsey Waite and Ernest each had five kills to pace the Warriors.
The Mavericks advance to the state semifinals play No. 3 Mead, who posted a 25-21, 25-20, 25-21 victory over Brady in the first round at 2 p.m. Friday at Grand Island Senior High. Beck said Mead will be a tough task.
“They pass very well and have nice hitters,” Beck said. “They are a little bit quicker than Leyton. They aren't real big. We have to make sure we are attacking the ball all the time, especially when they are passing over freeballs.”
Cedar Valley (25-6)............................25 25 25
Leyton (30-2)...................................23 11 21
CV(Kills-aces-blocks): Brooke Behnk 3-2-4, Jayden Erickson 6-1-3, Lindsay Lammers 1-1-3, Kaitlyn Wood 0-0-0, Skyler Erickson 23-0-2, Ashlynn Wood 2-0-0, Evey Choat 1-0-1, Kara Donovan 3-0-0.
L: Kelsey Waite 5-0-3, Grace Harvey 1-0-0, Rachael Ernest 5-0-1, Carly Rushman 0-0-0, Kaitlyn Berner 2-0-2, Kassandra Harris 2-0-1, Kathryn Ernest 0-0-0.
Set assists: CV, Lammers 39. L, K. Ernest 16.