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VOLLEYBALL: No. 2 Titans win five-set battle over No. 4 Warriors on senior night

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It’s only fitting that a matchup between Titans and Warriors is a tense battle.

That’s exactly what happened when No. 2 Papio South came back to defeat No. 4 Omaha Westside in five sets (19-25, 25-18, 15-25, 25-21, 15-10) on senior night on Tuesday, Sept. 20.

Titans seniors

Papio South volleyball seniors (from left: Kenzie Dyrstad, Shealie Wiebers, Stella Adeyemi, Ava Greene and Olivia Brodersen) before their five-set win over Omaha Westside on senior night, Tuesday, Sept. 20. 

After the recognitions of Titan seniors Olivia Brodersen, Kenzie Dyrstad, Ava Greene, Stella Adeyemi and Shealie Wiebers, the Warriors looked poised to spoil the party by staying at arm’s length in a 25-19 win in set one, finished off by Samatha Laird’s eighth kill.

“We knew that they (Westside) were going to come out with some different things, they were going to mix up their shots a little bit,” Titans head coach Katie Tarman said. “We were going to have to adjust and I think we did that for the most part.”

Tarman said the areas they struggled in, “like our block,” will make the Titans “stronger in the long run.”

Ava Greene and Shealie Wiebers

Papio South seniors Ava Greene (No. 6, left) and Shealie Wiebers go up for a block in the Titans' senior night win over Omaha Westside on Tuesday, Sept. 20.

In the second set, the Titans were boosted by the needed spark of Morgan Bode, who was just cleared to play yesterday. 

“I wasn’t sure we were going to use her today,” Tarman said. “But she was kind of the spark we needed to get in there and it was nice to have her back in the game.”

Bode finished with three blocks in the set, the last of which won the set for the Titans by seven. 

Morgan Bode

Papio South junior Morgan Bode (No. 8) sets during the Titans' senior night win over Omaha Westside on Tuesday, Sept. 20.

The Warriors were once again led by Laird in the third set, who got her 16th kill of the match to win the set 25-15.

“She’s a fabulous athlete,” Tarman said. “Just getting to match up our athletes with theirs, that is just high-level volleyball right there. So it was very fun to play against girls like that.”

But the Titans were able to adjust, though they had to sweat out a late 3-0 Westside run in a 25-21 fourth-set win. Junior Lauren Medeck was up to 19 kills, while Adeyemi also had double digits.

Lauren Medeck shot

Papio South junior Lauren Medeck (middle) sends a shot over the net during the Titans' senior night win over Omaha Westside on Tuesday, Sept. 20.

“Their (Medeck and Adeyemi) leadership is starting to emerge,” Tarman said. “Their competition strength is starting to emerge even more and more, and (they) feel comfortable in that role. So I’m excited for them for that, especially Lauren is just emerging, incredibly. So it’s gonna be a fun season for her.”

“I knew that we had a lot of shots that we wanted to execute on,” Adeyemi added. “So just having our strategy and putting that into play has really helped me and Lauren and all the hitters all around.”

Stella Adeyemi

Papio South senior Stella Adeyemi (middle) elevates for a kill while teammates look on during the Titans' senior night win over Omaha Westside on Tuesday, Sept. 20.

In such a tense battle, Adeyemi said the training from the summer to now is what allowed them to come back from a 2-1 deficit.

“We knew we were prepared and we know that we are a very strong team,” she said. “So that just gives us the motivation that we need.”

In the fifth set, the Titans jumped ahead to a 3-0 lead and never trailed, though the Warriors did tie the set at 10.

But Papio South outlasted Westside, who made six errors in the final set, by winning the final five points. Medeck finished off the match with her 26th kill, and Adeyemi finished with 15, while Laird had 24.

"Their (Westside) game has improved so much over the last few years," Tarman said. "They're like a rivalry for us. So it's huge. And I think anytime that you get taken to five sets, you learn a lot. And so we just have to learn from these kinds of these kind of matches, because it's what it's going to take to win it all."

“I just feel like it's such a great accomplishment, our team really had goals and motivation for this game and I think we really executed them very well,” Adeyemi said. “So it means a lot to me to win, and to the team.”

On the seniors, Tarman said they are “all-around good kids” who work hard in the gym and to be the “best people that they can be. The Titans also met before the game to take an assessment to cover their strengths.

“Everybody got their strengths back, and I mean, they are all unique,” Tarman said. “They bring something incredibly special to our team, each one of them from the bottom to the top, and it’s really important that they know that because without them knowing that, I don’t think we get to where we want to go at all… And hopefully, we can put it all together for them.”

“I think this win definitely shows us that we’re capable of a lot of things and so much more,” Adeyemi added. “So we’re just gonna use this one as motivation to keep pushing until state, until the end.”

After the win over Westside, the Titans swept Roosevelt (Des Moines, Iowa) and Millard West in the Allison Weston Papillion-La Vista Invitational on Friday.

Papio South swept Westside in the semifinals, but were swept by No. 1 Lincoln Southwest in the final on Saturday.

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