LINCOLN — Riley Warner isn’t a big kid.
The Lincoln Pius X freshman stands about 5-feet-3 and weighs only 110 pounds. And those are generous measurements, Pius X tennis coach Nolan DeWispelare said.
But Warner came up huge Thursday afternoon at the Nebraska Tennis Center, scoring the winning point in his No. 2 doubles match to keep Pius X’s hopes of a title alive at the Class B state tournament.
“Riley’s a fire ball,” DeWispelare said. “We knew if we wanted to have a chance at a championship we had to win that match. (Riley) was able to control his nerves and come up huge for us.”
Warner and senior doubles partner Zach Hammack, the fifth seed in No. 2 doubles, rallied after losing the first set to beat the fourth-seeded duo of Andrew Wright and Christian Healy from Omaha Skutt. Warner’s clinching point came after Wright and Healy had won the last two games to cut the Pius X lead to 5-4. Warner calmly served a pair of aces in the final game to help put the match away.
The win advances Warner and Hammack to the No. 2 doubles semifinals.
“My partner is a senior and I didn’t want him go out with a loss,” Warner said.
Even with the victory, Warner and Pius X still trail defending Class B champ Elkhorn South, which looks poised for another title run.
All four of the Storm’s entries advanced to the semifinals, including their No. 1 doubles team of juniors Luke Johnson and Jonah Clark, the tournament’s sixth seed who upset the No. 3 seed of Adam Olsen and Thomas Kelly from Pius X in arguably the best match of the day.
“I didn’t tell the kids how important that match was for us before it started, but that was a huge win,” said Steve Bischof, the Elkhorn South coach.
That match would be the only one dropped by Pius X as three of its four entries advanced to the semifinals, including the top seed in the No. 1 singles bracket, Landon Warner. He will face the defending No. 2 singles champion Zahler Zandt from Elkhorn South.
Omaha Skutt, a favorite heading into the tournament with all four entries seeded in the top four, lost a pair of matches Thursday but still remains in the hunt for a state title. Skylar Lowe, the No. 2 seed in the top singles bracket, advanced to the semifinals as well as teammates Andrew Johnson and Zachory Pohlman, the second-seeded duo in No. 1 doubles.
The undefeated and top-seeded duo from Holdrege, Jared Karlson and Walker Hohensee, cruised into the semifinals of No. 1 doubles by losing only five games on the day.
After day one, Elkhorn South leads the team standings with 36 points while Pius X and Skutt are tied for second at 32.
“I didn’t know what to expect heading into this season,” Bischof said. “But now I know we have a good shot at this thing.”
Class B State Tournament
Team scores: Elkhorn South 36, Lincoln Pius X 32, Omaha Skutt 32, Elkhorn 24, Grand Island Central Catholic 24, Beatrice 20, Hastings 18, Ralston 18, Holdrege 16, Elkhorn Mount Michael 16, McCook 14, Omaha Gross 14, Omaha Brownell-Talbot/Concordia 12, Lexington 10, Waverly 10, Lincoln College View 8, Kearney Catholic 6, Omaha Roncalli 6, York 6, Alliance 4, Lincoln Christian 4, Adams Central 2, Gretna 2, Nebraska City 2, Gering 0, Scottsbluff 0, South Sioux City 0.
Individual results: Quarterfinals: No. 1 Singles: Warner, L.P. X def. Cronican, Ral., 6-0, 6-3. Zandt, E.S., def. Harshburger, G.I.C.C., 1-6, 6-1, 6-3. Karnes, Has., def. Rich, O.B.-T./C., 6-1, 6-4. Lowe, O.S. def. Muir, Elk., 6-0, 7-5. Semifinals: Warner vs. Zandt; Karnes vs. Lowe. No. 2 Singles: Thomas, E.S., def. Messbarger, K.C., 6-2, 6-0. Cevaca, L.P. X, def. Prochaska, Ral., 3-6, 6-4, 6-2. Randall, Elk., def. Sehring, OS, 1-6, 6-2, 6-3. Vitera, G.I.C.C., def. Baumberger, E.M.M., 6-0, 6-0. Semifinals: Thomas vs. Cevaca; Vitera vs. Randall. No. 1 Doubles: Karlson/Hohensee, Hol., def. Midkiff/Mitnik, McC., 6-1, 6-3. Benson/Pieper, Bea., def. Nordhues/Rohweder, G.I.C.C., 6-4, 3-6, 7-5. Clark/Johnson, E.S., def. Olson/Kelly, L.P. X, 6-4, 0-6, 7-5. Johnson/Pohlman, O.S., def. Hua/Lauby, Lex., 6-2, 6-0. Semifinals: Karlson/Hohensee vs. Benson/Pieper; Clark/Johnson vs. Johnson/Pohlman. No. 2 Doubles: Schaphorst/Lortz, ES, def. VanHaute/Mixan, OG, 6-0, 6-0. Hammack/Warner, L.P. X, def. Wright/Healy, O.S., 2-6, 6-1, 6-4. Kern/Hamburger, Has., def. Cappel/Suda, McC., 1-6, 6-2, 6-0. Hart/Seagren, Elk., def. Hitzemann/Hotovy, E.M.M., 6-1, 7-6, 7-3. Semifinals: Schaphorst/Lortz vs. Hammack/Warner; Kern/Hamburger vs/ Hart Seagren.