GRAND ISLAND, Neb. — Exeter-Milligan is once again the state volleyball champion in Class D-1.
The Timberwolves celebrated their third title in the past four years following a 25-20, 15-25, 25-13, 25-20 win over West Point Guardian Angels Central Catholic in the Class D-1 championship match Saturday night at Heartland Events Center.
“There were a lot of momentum shifts tonight,” Exeter-Milligan coach Darcy White said. “The second set was kind of a low spot for us, but I was proud of how the girls came back in the third set. Then of course, we played with a little more confidence and relaxed a little bit more in the fourth set after having two games under our belt. I was proud of how the girls finished and how they stayed focused.”
After a loss in the second set, Exeter-Milligan grabbed the momentum back during the early stages of the third set. Leading 5-4, the Timberwolves went on a 7-0 run capped by an ace serve by Kylie Briske.
Exeter-Milligan (30-4) went on to build its largest lead of the set at 23-12 with a Malinda Hall kill.
In the fourth set, Guardian Angels Central Catholic held a 17-16 advantage before the Timberwolves scored six straight. Jaclyn Luzum knocked down a kill as Exeter-Milligan led 22-17. Five points later, the Bluejays pulled within 24-20 following an Abby Ortmeier kill. On the next rally, Hall knocked down the match-clinching kill for the Timberwolves.
Exeter-Milligan also used a late run to record the win in set one. With the score tied at 18, the Timberwolves closed things out with a 7-2 run.
Guardian Angels never trailed during its win in the second set. The Bluejays were up 14-8 midway through the match before a 9-0 run helped tie the match at one set apiece. After Exeter-Milligan pulled to within 24-15, Ortmeier connected on her fifth kill of the set to even the match.
“We played real well in the second set,” GACC coach Sandi Nelson said. “If we would have continued that way, it would have been a really good game. We hurt ourselves tonight by making a lot of mistakes.”
Ortmeier's block put the Bluejays up 23-8, their largest lead of the set.
Luzum finished with 11 kills for Exeter-Milligan. Teammates Megan Zwickl, Hall and Jennifer Pribyl each connected on six kills. Jennifer Pribyl had five blocks, while Taylor Erdkamp handed out 28 set assists.
“My seniors are great leaders and helped my younger players really develop throughout the year,” White said. “That really helped down the stretch.”
Ortmeier finished with 11 kills and nine blocks to lead Guardian Angels Central Catholic. Emily Knobbe also had 11 kills, while Jamie Petz handed out 24 set assists. Karlie Bracht had two ace serves, while Krista Fischer had a team-leading 15 digs.
West Point GACC (30-5)..............................20 25 13 20
Exeter-Milligan (30-4)..................................25 15 25 25
WPGACC (kills-aces-blocks): Emily Knobbe 11-1-1, Jamie Petz 3-1-0, Abby Ortmeier 11-0-9, Haley Guenther 0-0-0, Kendra Schlautman 0-0-0, Annie Niewohner 5-0-3, Krista Fischer 3-0-1, Emily Petz 0-0-0, Karlie Bracht 4-2-6.
EM: Madison Horne 0-0-0, Amber Pribyl 4-0-2, Malinda Hall 6-0-0, Taylor Erdkamp 1-1-1, Jaclyn Luzum 11-1-2, Erica Yound 1-1-0, Kylie Briske 0-1-0, Megan Zwickl 6-1-1, Jennifer Pribyl 6-0-5.
Set assists: WPGACC 26 (J. Petz 24, Ortmeier 1, Schlautman 1), EM 31 (Erdkamp 28, Hall 2, Horne 1.)