GRAND ISLAND, Neb. — Giltner took advantage of its second chance.
After falling to No. 1 Bertrand in their district final, the second-ranked Hornets received the wild card and made most of their opportunity. They captured the school's sixth state title Saturday after posting a 25-17, 25-14, 25-18 victory over No. 5 Stuart at the Heartland Events Center.
“Last week against Bertrand was a downer, but we just knew that we had to buckle down and get back to business like we know we can,” Giltner middle hitter Dani Most said. “That's what we did. (Winning a state championship) feels great.”
Hornets coach Kurt Polt said he's glad his team made most of its opportunity and knew it was going to be tough at state. Giltner posted a five-set victory over No. 4 Sterling in the semifinals Friday.
“Anybody can get hot during a three-day tournament,” Polt said. “It don't matter how you get here. Winning a state title goes to the kids because they played hard and did all the work. I'm glad to see them respond after what happened last week.”
Errors haunted Stuart all match long — the Broncos committed 29 hitting errors. Stuart coach Stacey Dexter said that might have had to do with inexperience as the Broncos have one senior on their roster.
“I think nerves got the best of us as we are a young team,” Dexter said. “We just couldn't get over the hump at all.”
Most made her presence known early as she produced six kills in the first set in giving Giltner a 17-11 lead. Stuart errors allowed the Hornets to distance themselves in building a 24-17 lead before a Kelbie Lyon kill gave them the opening set.
Giltner started strong in the second set with a 6-0 lead and was never threatened.
Stuart tried to fight back with an 11-6 lead in the third set. However, Jaclyn Happold served a 5-0 run as Giltner tied the match at 11-all.
The lead shifted back and forth before a Darby Hinrichs kill broke an 18-all tie and Giltner's Augusta Rhoades served the final six points. Hinrichs put the finishing touches on the match with a kill and a block during the final run.
Harlee Fischer led Stuart with seven kills while Monique Schafer added six. The Broncos reached the finals after upsetting previously undefeated Bertrand in five sets.
“I've couldn't have asked anything more from this squad, they deserve to be here,” Dexter said. “They're young and they will be determined to be back here. The kids shouldn't hold their heads because they had a good year.”
The Hornets had to replace five seniors off last year's third-place team. Most, who was one of the main attackers last year, said the team really came together this season.
“We had to pick up a lot of new people in new positions because of what we lost from last year,” Most said. “Everyone did a great job in doing so, and Jaclyn did an awesome job setting for us this year.”
After defeating Sterling on Friday, Polt said he was going to wait a while for that to sink in. Saturday was a different story.
“I think this one's already sunk in. It's here right now. We're going to enjoy it,” Polt said.
Stuart (26-7)...........................17 14 18
Giltner (31-2)..........................25 25 25
STUART (Kills-ace-blocks) – Harlee Fischer 7-3-0, Hailey Paxton 3-0-1, Brittany Hanzlik 1-0-0, Monique Schafer 6-0-0, Jaden Schafer 1-1-0, Courtni Kunz 5-0-1, Samantha Sattler 0-0-0.
GILTNER (Kills-aces-blocks) – Darby Hinrichs 6-1-2, Sarah Most 0-1-0, Riley Hinrichs 0-0-0, Shelby Hinrichs 1-0-0, Madison Omel 0-1-0, Augusta Rhoades 0-1-0, Jaclyn Happold 0-0-0, Kelbie Lyon 6-0-0, Dani Most 10-1-2.
SET ASSISTS –S: Schafer 21, Hanzlik 3. G: Happold 18, Omel 1, S. Hinrichs 1, S. Most 1.