GRAND ISLAND, Neb. — When Omaha Marian coach Rochelle Rohlfs says Thursday’s state tournament match was one of the Crusaders’ best first-rounders ever, that’s saying something.
Marian, which has qualified for state 27 times, defeated Millard North 25-17, 25-16, 25-18 at the Heartland Events Center. The second-ranked Crusaders (37-4) advance to play Lincoln Pius X in an 11 a.m. Class A semifinal Friday.
“I thought we were very focused,” Rohlfs said. “Our passing and our defense came up big and those were the two areas that we’ve been working on.”
Marian had lost a set against the Mustangs at the Metro Conference tournament, but it didn’t let that happen this time. The Crusaders opened up a clear lead midway through all three sets and didn’t let Millard North get close enough to challenge.
“They played error-free volleyball and we didn’t,” Mustangs coach Lindsay Mohon said. “We started off pretty quiet and I thought that was a sign of our nerves.”
Marian led 5-1 in the first set and eventually extended its lead to 22-13 on a kill by Lexi Elman, who finished with 14 in the match. After the Mustangs won the next four points to close within 22-17, a block by Maggie Heim and a pair of aces by Elman ended the first set.
The Crusaders pulled away from a 6-all tie in the second set, going on an 11-2 run to grab a 17-8 advantage. Marian held that clear lead to the end and won the set on a kill by Annie Wolfe.
It was the same in the third set as the Crusaders grabbed the lead and refused to give it up. Marian won the final three points on an ace by Theresa Kennelly and kills by Wolfe and Elman.
“I thought our aggressive serving was a big key,” Rohlfs said. “They’re a team that if they can get the ball to the net, they can be trouble.”
Wolfe finished with 10 kills for the Crusaders and Heim had seven kills and three blocks.
Mohon, a former Millard North player in her first season as head coach, said she remained upbeat after the match.
“I told the seniors how proud I was of them,” she said. “And I told our girls coming back that this should make them hungry for next year.”
Sophomore Isabella Siciunas led the Mustangs with eight kills and senior Jahne Maddock had seven.
Millard North (27-15)......................................17 16 18
Omaha Marian (37-4).....................................25 25 25
MN (kills-aces-blocks): Elizabeth Koukol 0-1-0, Katherine King 4-0-0, Isabella Siciunas 8-0-0, Nikki Ohlinger 0-1-0, Makayla Maxwell 2-0-1, Megan Elsasser 3-0-0, Paige Madsen 1-1-0, Jahne Maddock 7-0-2, Sara Vitito 1-0-0.
OM: Sydney O’Shaughnessy 4-0-0, Morgan Sullivan 2-1-1, Brittany Witt 0-1-0, Theresa Kennelly 0-1-0, Anna Krettek 0-0-1, Lexi Elman 14-4-1, Annie Wolfe 10-2-0, Maggie Heim 7-0-3.
Set assists: MN 20 (Ohlinger 10, Madsen 7, Maddock 2, O’Shaughnessy 1); OM 28 (Heim 19, O’Shaughnessy 8, Elman 1).
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