LINCOLN — Competing with an experienced squad last season, Omaha Marian volleyball coach Rochelle Rohlfs expected her team to win the Lincoln Public Schools Classic.
With a young team this season, she didn’t really know what to expect.
But Rohlfs’ Crusaders responded to the challenge, defeating Lincoln Southwest in the final to repeat as LPS champions. Marian won 25-15, 25-23 over the Silver Hawks to capture the 16-team tournament.
“I thought we played pretty solid,” Rohlfs said. “We made some errors, but we served aggressively and I think that was a big key to the match.”
The seventh-ranked Crusaders advanced to the final by defeating Lincoln Southeast (25-20, 25-21) in a quarterfinal and Papillion-La Vista (25-17, 25-18) in the semifinal. The fourth-ranked Silver Hawks defeated Grand Island (25-21, 25-18) and Lincoln North Star (25-22, 25-18) en route to the championship match.
Marian led for much of the first set and went on an 8-3 run to take a 21-12 advantage. A kill by sophomore Sophia Terwilleger, which came after a dig by Brittany Witt and a set by Sydney O’Shaughnessy, ended it at 25-15 and gave the Crusaders momentum heading into the second set.
Southwest hung tough in that second set and held an 18-16 lead after a kill by sophomore Allie Davis. But a 6-0 run by the Crusaders, which included a kill and a block by senior Anna Krettek, staked Marian to a 22-18 lead.
The Silver Hawks fought back to make it 22-21, but a kill by Krettek got Marian back on track. An ace by Krettek and a kill on the final point by Kelsey O’Connell allow the Crusaders to successfully defend their title.
“We didn’t play our best in that final,” Southwest coach Mary Schropfer said. “We played really well in the (semifinal) win over North Star, but Marian is a good team and took advantage of some of our mistakes.”
Rohlfs said part of the Crusaders’ strategy was to serve aggressively at the Silver Hawks’ two biggest hitters, Davis and Marysa Wilkinson.
“We wanted them to be concentrating on more than hitting,” she said. “We did a good job of executing that game plan.”
O’Connell led Marian with 10 kills — five in each set. Hannah Mueller added eight kills, Terwilleger had six and O’Shaughnessy chipped in 28 assists.
Wilkinson, a Creighton recruit, had nine kills for Southwest while Davis had eight.
“We played with confidence,” Rohlfs said. “I really liked what I saw from the team today.”
The Silver Hawks return to action Tuesday night at Lincoln Northeast. Marian’s next match will be Thursday night against visiting Bellevue West.
Lincoln Southwest............................15 23
Omaha Marian.................................25 25
LSW (kills-aces-blocks): Callie Meyer 1-0-0, Aftyn Johnson 0-1-0, Madison Kelle 0-0-1, Marysa Wilkinson 9-0-0, Jill Bax 1-0-0, Alyssa Meyer 3-0-2, Allie Davis 8-0-1.
OM: Sophia Terwilleger 6-0-0, Andie Hanus 0-1-0, Hannah Mueller 8-0-0, Elizabeth Loschen 3-1-0, Anna Krettek 4-1-2, Kelsey O’Connell 10-0-0.
Set assists: LSW 18 (Madison Egger 18), OM 29 (O’Shaughnessy 28, Brittany Witt 1).