GRAND ISLAND, Neb. — Hartington Cedar Catholic volleyball coach Adam Kuntz and his squad had a point to prove against Hastings St. Cecilia.
“All we heard all year was St. Cecilia, St. Cecilia, St. Cecilia,” Kuntz said. “And we were respectable all year. We wanted to come out and play with a heart and show people what we were made of.”
The No. 3 Trojans came out and took care of business in moving on into the C-2 state final by sweeping No. 1 St. Cecilia 26-24, 25-20, 25-21 Friday in the Class C-2 semifinals at Grand Island High School.
The Trojans (30-5) advance to battle No. 4 Norfolk Lutheran, which defeated No. 2 North Platte St. Patrick's.
While Cedar Catholic may have had one of its best performances, St. Cecilia coach Alan VanCura said it might have been one of the worst for his squad. It had eight service errors and 11 hitting errors.
“We missed too many serves and our serve receive broke down and you can't do that against a team like them,” he said.
St. Cecilia (30-4) had the upper hand in the first set, holding a 23-21 lead. However, a Hawkette service error turned the ball over to Cedar Catholic. Alexis Steffen had two blocks to give the Trojans a 24-23 lead. St. Cecilia got a kill from Arika Kitten to tie it, but a Steffen kill and Hawkette error gave the set to Cedar Catholic.
“That was crucial,” VanCura said. “That got away from us and it seemed like we lost any momentum we had in the match.”
“That was huge, especially since we came from behind,” he said.
The next two sets were mirror images of each other, with the Trojans pulling away at the midway point of each.
St. Cecilia made one last run in the third set after falling behind 20-14. Kitten had two kills to start a 6-0 run, and she stuffed a Cedar Catholic attack at the end to tie it at 20.
After a Karlyssa Noecker kill broke the tie, Trojan setter Emily Schrempp pushed the ball into the right corner for a 22-20 lead and they never looked back. Alexis Steffen ended the match with a kill to send Cedar Catholic into the final.
Kitten led the Hawkettes with 10 kills, while Olivia Thomas added eight and Morgan Nikkila seven.
VanCura said he was happy to see St. Cecilia battle back but thought it gave up key runs during the match.
“In a big match like this, you can't give up big runs like we did,” he said.
Noecker, Steffen and Katelyn Dickes led the Trojans with eight kills each.
“We just had different players step up when we had to and they were aggressive, especially in the third set,” Kuntz said. “I told them that we were 2-0 and it's OK for us to make errors at that point of the match and they couldn't."
Hartington CC (30-5).......................26 25 25
Hastings SC (30-4)..........................24 22 21
HCC (kills-aces-block): Karlyssa Noecker 8-3-1, Emily Schrempp 2-0-3, Siera Becker 5-0-3, Katelyn Dickes 8-0-3, Magdalena Steffen 0-1-0, Alexis Steffen 8-0-5, Bailey Steffen 6-0-1, Kallie Leise 0-0-0.
HSC: Clare Hamburger 0-1-0, Alyssa Schropp 0-0-0, Arika Kitten 10-0-2, Courtney McCauley 3-0-0, Josie Prevetter 5-0-2, Morgan Nikkila 7-1-0, Olivia Thomas 8-0-2.
Set assists: HCC: Schrempp 32, Becker 1, B. Steffen 1. HSC: Hamburger 29.