Grand Island Northwest volleyball coach Diane Rouzee perfectly summed up the Vikings’ Class B state semifinal match with Norris.
"You just saw a very good volleyball team not have a good night," Rouzee said.
The Vikings were plagued by 23 hitting errors, while Norris played with nothing to lose. That led to the No. 5 Titans upsetting No. 1 and defending champion Northwest 25-19, 25-15, 18-25, 25-21 Friday at the Heartland Events Center.
It was the Vikings’ first loss of the season and ended their string of six consecutive trips to the state finals. Norris advances to the state championship match against Elkhorn South at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
"We picked a bad time to have a bad night and we didn’t have one until tonight," Rouzee said. "We had so many hitting errors. We basically got outplayed in every phase of the game. Norris just played very well and they are a very dangerous team right now and they showed why they are. You basically saw a good volleyball team not have a good night."
Norris, meanwhile, has continued to roll during the postseason. During the Class B, District 6 Tournament, the Titans upset No. 2 Lincoln Pius X. Then Norris rallied from a 9-1 fifth-set deficit in the first round of the state tournament to post a five-set win over No. 3 Waverly Thursday.
Most of the night, the Vikings couldn’t stop the Norris trio of Kasey Hohlen, Mackenzie Allen and Kylie Hohlen. Kasey Hohlen led the trio with 13 kills, while Allen added 12 and Kylie Hohlen chipped in 10.
Norris coach Christina Boesiger said the Titans have played with nothing to lose the past few weeks.
"The pressure was not on us coming in and we were the sixth seed," Boesiger said. "I told the girls that they just needed to compete hard and play to win. The girls were pretty focused."
Northwest was its own worst enemy in the first two sets by committing 14 hitting errors to go along with five setting errors and that helped Norris take a 2-0 lead over the Vikings.
But Northwest responded in the third set, thanks to Erin Sorahan. The 5-foot-6 senior had eight of her match-high 18 kills in the set, with her final one helping the Vikings build a 24-18 lead before Katie Placke finished the set with a kill.
"I was glad to see the kids show some fight in that third set," Rouzee said.
But then Norris got on a roll at the midpoint of the fourth set as Kasey Hohlen had five kills in the set in going up 21-13.
But after Allen put down a kill to put Norris up 23-13, she went down on the court with a knee injury.
Everyone in the arena went completely silent as trainers and the Norris coaching staff checked out the injury.
Allen, who just got back into the lineup after a previous injury, had to be carried off the court and did not return. She had ice on her knee during the final stages of the match.
Northwest did use an 8-1 run to cut into the lead after the injury but Kylie Hohlen finished the match with a kill to send the Titans into the state finals.
"These girls are so close together so it took a while for the girls to get refocused," Boesiger said. "Their thoughts were with Mackenzie. They were able to regroup and got it done."
McKenzie Brown chipped in 10 kills and 20 digs while Placke had nine kills and 19 assists.
Rouzee said Norris did what they had to do to win the match.
"Take nothing away from Norris because they did a lot to frustrate us," Rouzee said. "We couldn’t stop their middles and their outsides had some good hits on us as well. They dug a lot of hard shots we hit at them also."
Now the Vikings have to turn their focus to the consolation match against Omaha Skutt at noon Saturday at Grand Island Senior High.
Rouzee said she felt bad for the Viking players.
"You want them to play well," Rouzee said. "I’m at a loss right now and the kids are going to be disappointed. You want to at least play well and lose but we didn’t do that tonight."
Norris (29-8) ........................... 25 25 18 25
Northwest (37-1) .................... 19 15 25 21
NORRIS (Kills-ace-blocks) – Marisa Moseman 0-0-2, Madeline Bruder 0-0-0, Kylie Hohlen 9-2-2, Reagan TeKolste 0-0-0, Payton Ruhl 0-1-5, Mackenzie Allen 14-2-0, Andrea Jameson 6-0-2, Kasey Hohlen 14-0-2. Jordyn Clauss 0-3-0.
NORTHWEST (Kills-ace-blocks) – Erin Sorahan 16-0-0, Mackenzie Burnham 0-0-0, Katie Placke 9-0-2, Alyssa Martin 1-0-0, Erin Schleicher 4-0-1, McKenzie Brown 10-0-1, Kennadi Keezer 0-0-1, Angelica Carlini 0-1-0, Allie Carlini 0-0-0.
SET ASSISTS –N: Moseman 39, Ruhl 1. NW: Placke 19, Burnham 15, Schleicher 1, Brown 1.