This time, Elkhorn didn’t let its volleyball match with Elkhorn South slip away.
The host Antlers won the first two sets and went on to capture the season-opening match 25-18, 25-23, 14-25, 25-14. Elkhorn also won the first two sets in last year’s season opener before the Storm battled back to win in five.
“That was fun,” Antlers coach Jenny Gragert said. “When you get these schools together in any sport, it’s going to be a great atmosphere.”
The teams, competing in front of a spirited crowd estimated at 600, played well in their season debut. Elkhorn South is ranked No. 8 in Class B while Elkhorn is No. 10.
Gragert said there were positives and negatives to playing such an emotional match to start the season.
“You know it’s going to be a high-level match because of the quality of the competition,” she said. “But they’re a team we’re going to see a few more times this season, so they’ll get a pretty good look at us.”
Elkhorn closed out the first set on a block by sophomore Nicole Skovsende to win by seven, but the second set was much closer. The Antlers bounced back from an early four-point deficit to win 25-23 on a kill by Skovsende.
After winning the first two sets, Gragert talked to her team about the one that got away last year against the Storm.
“Maybe I shouldn’t have done that,” she said. “We came out a little flat after that.”
Elkhorn South held the upper hand throughout that third set and rolled to an 11-point win. The Storm won their first set of the season when a shot by Elkhorn’s Dani Carlson went wide.
The Antlers regrouped in the fourth set and took the lead for good with the help of sophomore Anna Gottsch. She helped spark an 11-1 run by serving six consecutive points — including three straight aces — to put Elkhorn in command.
A setting error by the Storm on the final point closed out the match.
“The fact our defense was able to handle their strengths was the key to victory,” Gragert said. “We did a pretty good job for our first match of the season.”
Skovsende led the Antlers with 10 kills while senior Sarah Brand added eight. Gottsch had four kills, four aces and 17 assists.
Alli Rogers led the Storm with 16 kills while Emily Gregan had 10. Kelsey Green had six kills and Ashley Knight chipped in 32 assists.
Elkhorn returns to action Friday in the two-day Beatrice Invitational. Elkhorn South’s next match will be Saturday in the Heartland Crossroads tournament in Fremont.
Elkhorn South ............................ 18 23 25 14
At Elkhorn ............................ 25 25 14 25
ES (kills-aces-blocks): Kelsey Green 6-2-1, Emily Gregan 10-2-0, Leslie Booth 4-2-1, Kenzi Bay 1-0-0, Sarah Swanson 2-1-2, Alli Rogers 15-0-1.
E: Grace Nelson 1-3-0, Nicole Skovsende 10-2-2, Dani Carlson 2-3-0, Peyton McCormick 4-0-1, Anna Gottsch 4-4-0, Whitney Wieseler 3-0-3, Sarah Brand 8-1-2.
Assists: ES 34 (Ashley Knight 32, Gregan 1, Bay 1). E 19 (Gottsch 17, Wieseler 1, Adasia Bromberger 1).