WAHOO – This is the right time of the year to playing your best volleyball.
The Bishop Neumann Cavaliers appear to be doing just that as they get ready to take a 10 match win streak into the biggest tournament of the season.
The Cavaliers enter the NSAA Volleyball Championships with a record of 25-9 and earned Class C-2’s fifth seed after a straight set win over Thayer Central in the Class C2-7 district championship at York High School on Nov. 2.
It will be the fourth time in five years that the Cavaliers will be a part of the state tournament.
The Cavaliers best state finish came in 2016 when they ended up third. They finished fourth last season.
Making it to the state tournament appeared to be in question when Neumann left Norfolk on Oct. 15 after a straight set loss to the Knights of Norfolk Catholic. The loss was the third in a row for the Cavaliers who stood at 15-9 as they boarded the bus for the two-hour trip back to Wahoo.
Since then, the Cavaliers have lost just five sets and have wins over Columbus Scotus, Centennial, Columbus Lakeview, Malcolm, Cross County and Thayer Central – teams who have combined for a 129-61 record.
Third year Coach Brandi Sladky has compiled a record of 77-22 with the Cavaliers and her team finds themselves back in Lincoln after finishing fourth a year ago.
6-1 sophomore outside hitter Kali Jurgensmeier has turned into a dynamic player for the Cavaliers this season.
Jurgensmeier leads the team in kills with 356, digs with 328 and has been the Cavaliers most reliable player in serve receive. She has also devastated opponents over the last half of the season with a jump serve, which she seems to have perfected heading into the state tourney.
6-foot senior Lindsey Thiele is a six-rotation player for the Cavaliers and has proven instrumental in the Cavaliers turnaround late in the season.
Thiele does a little bit of everything for Neumann and she does it all very well. She is second on the team with 218 kills, leads the team with 56 ace serves, is second on the team with 247 digs and for good measure has dished out 264 set assists in the Cavaliers 6-2 system.
Senior Emily Coufal also goes all the way around for Neumann and has piled up 186 kills and 279 digs in 2019.
Sophomore setter Lauren Thiele leads the Cavaliers with 567 set assists and is also a strong defensive player.
Seniors McKayla Most and Katie Spicka have played important roles for the Cavaliers and throw up a strong block at the net.
The Cavaliers will do battle with Lutheran High Northeast, a Lutheran High School located in Norfolk, on Nov. 7 at 3:30 p.m. at Lincoln Southwest High School
The Eagles are the four seed and have compiled a 29-6 record.
Like the Cavaliers, the Eagles enter state tournament play red hot, winners of 22 of their last 23 matches.
The Eagles advanced to the state tournament courtesy of a four-set win over Centura in the Class C2-4 district championship game in Albion.
The Eagles won state championships in 2010 and 2011 and were runner-up in 2012. Their last appearance came back in 2016.
The Eagles own five wins over state tournament teams this season, including two against Wisner-Pilger and one each against Hartington Cedar Catholic and Summerland, all teams competing in the Class C-2 tournament.
The Eagles have just two seniors on the roster and are led by a strong junior class.
One of those juniors is 5-8 outside hitter Rebecca Gebhardt who leads the team with 403 kills and 388 digs.
Juniors Chloe Spence and Madeline Becker split the setting duties and have combined to hand out 968 assists. Spence also has 127 kills.
Junior libero Halle Berner is a defensive ace for the Eagles. She leads the team with 578 digs and is tops on the team in serve receive.