Papillion-La Vista South is peaking at the right time, something Millard South found out the hard way Wednesday night.
The visiting Titans swept the Patriots 25-20, 25-21, 25-14 in the District A-6 final to snag a spot in next week’s state tournament. Millard South, meanwhile, must hope to earn the lone Class A wild card.
The Titans trailed in each of the first two sets before rallying. They rode that momentum into the third and never trailed to complete the sweep.
“We’ve grown accustomed to coming from behind in sets,” Papio South coach Katie Wright said. “We’ve gotten pretty good at it, though that makes it kind of hard on the coach.”
The Titans served notice at last week’s Metro Conference tournament that they’re playing their best volleyball down the stretch. They defeated top-ranked Papillion-La Vista in the quarterfinal, handing the Monarchs their first loss of the season.
“We played well in the Metro,” Wright said. “We knew that we were a good team, but I’m not sure our girls realized that we could be a great team.”
The Patriots trailed 8-2 in the first set but fought back to tie it 14-14 on a kill by Sophie Hendrix. Millard South reclaimed a 20-18 advantage only to see the Titans rattle off the next five points.
Papio South finished off the first set on a block by Emma O’Neill and a combination block by O’Neill and Hendrix.
The Patriots started strong in the second set, sprinting to a 12-4 lead. But the Titans battled back again by going on a 12-4 run and tied it 16-16.
A Hendrix kill gave Papio South the lead for good and another Hendrix kill gave the second set to the Titans.
“Coming back like that gave us so much confidence,” setter Ava LeGrand said. “Even when we were behind, we just went out and played.”
And the Titans poured it on in the third. They opened a 17-10 advantage and captured the set and the match on a Patriot net violation.
“They played fantastic,” Millard South coach Jaisa Poppleton said. “We’ve been a team of highs and lows all season, and it was baffling the way things went tonight.”
Hendrix led the Titans with 14 kills while Stella Adeyemi had nine and LeGrand seven. LeGrand also had 17 assists, four blocks and two ace serves.
Paige Fixemer paced the Patriots with 12 kills while Maddie MacTaggart and Maggie Madej each had seven.
“I think we showed last week that if we can beat Papio, we can do anything,” LeGrand said. “I’m so excited that we’re going to state.”
Papillion-La Vista South (20-17) ... 25 25 25
Millard South (24-12) ... 20 21 14
PLVS (kills-aces-blocks): Ashlyn Dierks 1-2-0, Delanie Vallinch 0-1-0, Breckyn Moore 3-0-0, Aliah Clarke 2-0-0, Harlei Cole 0-3-0, Stella Adeyemi 9-0-0, Andjelica Petrovic 0-1-0, Emma O'Neill 5-0-3, Ava LeGrand 7-2-4, Sophie Hendrix 14-0-2.
MS: Maddie MacTaggart 7-0-0, Samantha Steele 1-0-0, Paige Fixemer 12-0-5, Laci Abendroth 5-0-0, Audrey Behrens 0-1-0, Elyse Globe 3-0-0, Makayla Fleming 1-3-0, Maggie Madej 7-1-0.
Set assists: PLVS 35 (LeGrand 17, Dierks 15, Vallinch 2, Hendrix 1); MS 33 (Fleming 28, Steele 3, MacTaggart 1, Madej 1).
A-1, Papillion-La Vista def. Omaha Westside 25-12, 25-11, 25-13: The top-ranked Monarchs swept the unranked Warriors to earn their 34th trip to the state tournament.
A-2, Elkhorn South def. Kearney 25-20, 25-22, 25-17: The Storm, ranked second in Class A, earned their third straight trip to state and their first after moving to Class A this season.
A-3, Lincoln Pius X def. Lincoln Southeast 21-25, 25-12, 25-14, 25-21: The host Thunderbolts, who finished as Class A runners-up last season, have missed the state tournament once since 1995.
A-4, Gretna def. Elkhorn 25-16, 25-15, 23-25, 25-19: Gretna prevailed to earn its 10th trip to state in 11 years.
A-5, Millard West def. Bellevue West in four sets 21-25, 25-16, 25-14, 25-22: It’s the Wildcats’ ninth straight trip to state.
A-7, Millard North def. Lincoln Southwest 21-25, 25-12, 25-14, 25-21: The Mustangs, the defending Class A champs, earned their fifth straight trip to state.