GRAND ISLAND, Neb. — Omaha Skutt volleyball coach Renee Saunders called it a party, but it wasn't much fun for her SkyHawks.
The host Vikings posted eight ace blocks Saturday en route to a 25-21, 25-17 sweep of Skutt in the final of the Grand Island Northwest Invitational. The win boosts the Class B No. 1 Vikings to 16-0 and drops the third-ranked SkyHawks to 11-5.
“They had a block party,” Saunders said. “Their blocking led to tightness, and that led to errors.”
The main defensive obstacle for Skutt was 5-foot-11 senior Alyssa Martin, who had four of her team's eight blocks. Two came at a crucial time — late in the first set when the Vikings pulled away from a 21-all tie.
“It didn't help when we lost that first set on those blocks,” Saunders said. “It really showed me something we need to work on.”
The first set in the best-of-three championship match was close most of the way, though Northwest appeared to be in good shape with a 20-16 advantage. Skutt fought back to score the next four points to tie it at 20.
A kill by Kennedi Keezer put the Vikings back on top, but the SkyHawks tied it again on a kill by Claire Knust. Northwest then rattled off the next four points — a kill by Martin, two blocks by Martin and a shot into the net by Skutt's Kierra Harder — to give the Vikings a 1-0 edge in the match.
“Our blocking played a big role,” Northwest coach Diane Rouzee said. “We got in their heads early and forced them to try and figure out a way around it.”
The second set was close early, but the Vikings were in command most of the way. A 9-1 run turned a 6-6 tie into a 15-7 Northwest lead, and the SkyHawks were unable to get closer than five points the rest of the way.
Rouzee's squad closed out the victory on — what else? — a block by Erin Schleicher.
“Things opened up for us in that second set,” Rouzee said. “We were able to answer their challenge."
Senior Erin Sorahan had eight kills for Northwest, the defending Class B champion. McKenzie Brown added seven kills, while Katie Placke had four kills and 10 assists.
Alex Banker and Knust had six kills each for the SkyHawks. Banker also had 12 assists while Monica Hruby had 10.
The teams had gone 2-0 earlier in round-robin play to advance to the final. Northwest defeated York (25-4, 25-10) and Class C-1 No. 1 Columbus Scotus (25-17, 25-21) while Skutt beat Lexington (25-12, 25-9) and Hastings (25-16, 25-15).
“I'm really proud of our girls,” Rouzee said. “They played well today.”
The SkyHawks host Ralston on Tuesday night while the Vikings return to action Friday in the Twin Cities Invitational at Scottsbluff.
Omaha Skutt (11-5) ............................ 21 17
Grand Island Northwest (16-0) ............................ 25 25
OS (kills-aces-blocks): Kierra Harder 5-0-0, Clare Snyder 3-0-0, Alex Banker 6-0-0, Brooke Heyne 3-0-0, Alyssa Woodman 2-0-1, Natalie Prucha 1-1-0, Claire Knust 6-0-1, Taylor Holz 0-1-0.
GINW: Erin Sorahan 8-0-1, Katie Placke 4-0-2, Alyssa Martin 3-0-4, Erin Schleicher 1-0-1, McKenzie Brown 7-1-0, Kennadi Keezer 3-1-0.
Set assists: OS 25 (Banker 12, Monica Hruby 10, Snyder 2, Holz 1), GINW 22 (Placke 10, Kenzie Burnham 9, Schleicher 2, Sorahan 1).