Over the years, reaching the state tournament often has been a given for the successful athletic programs at Wahoo.
This season, you can add the volleyball team to that list.
The 28-3 Warriors reached state for the first time and will play their opening Class C-1 match at 8:30 p.m. Thursday against Minden at Grand Island High School.
“We've come close in past years, but we were finally able to get that done,” coach Trish Larson said. “The girls, the coaches and the whole town is pretty excited.”
Larson said her squad has played consistently all season. The Warriors' only losses have come against Omaha Concordia, Douglas County West and Syracuse.
“Reaching the state tournament is nothing new here at Wahoo High,” the coach said. “But for us, it's definitely a big step for our program.”
Larson said she challenged her team since the first day of practice to improve every time it stepped on the floor.
“I think we've done that, and we've been able to finish games,” she said. “We faced a lot of tough teams this season, and that should have us ready for what's ahead.”
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Five players for the Warriors have more than 100 kills — Katie Reeves (264), Gabrielle Shannon (240), Jessica Krecklow (233), Taylor Homes (163) and Lauren Crockett (127). Setter Laura Barry has 870 assists.
“Our goal all season was to reach the tournament,” Krecklow said. “We've been getting congratulated by a lot of people at school, and that always feels nice.”
Barry added that she wanted to extend the Warriors' season — and her varsity volleyball career — for as long as possible.
“When we played our last match last year (a subdistrict final loss against Columbus Scotus), it was sad to see it end,” she said. “To reach state this year is an out-of-this-world feeling.”
Senior Riley Sleister said reaching the state tourney is something the girls have only been able to dream about.
“We've been working for this since we were little,” she said. “To get to this point makes us feel that all of that hard work has paid off.”
The Warriors reached state after outlasting Omaha Concordia in a five-set nail-biter in the district final. The teams had split two previous matches.
“It was an amazing feeling to win that district final,” Larson said. “We've worked so hard for so many years to get to this point.”
Larson said she has spoken to her team about not simply settling for that elusive state tournament berth.
“Now we have to look ahead,” she said. “Just reaching state isn't good enough, and I think the girls understand that.”
Barry, one of three seniors on the squad, said the Warriors' ability to reach state will pave the way for future teams.
“They'll know it can be done,” she said. “That's a good feeling.”