LINCOLN – The fourth-seeded Bishop Neumann volleyball team overcame a slow start against fifth-seed Grand Island Central Catholic on Thursday evening in the opening round of the NSAA Volleyball Championships in Lincoln.
The Cavaliers lost the first set 14-25 before rallying to win the final three by scores of 25-22, 25-22 and 25-20.
The Cavaliers struggled mightily with serve receive in the first set, but quickly righted the ship behind a strong serve.
“I thought they served very tough so that got us out of system a lot and that allowed them to play a little quicker than us,” said Grand Island Central Catholic Coach Sharon Zavala. “Plus when it came down to it, Neumann has some pretty good athletes and they were able to make the plays when they had to.”
Seniors Alyssa Rezac and Jamie Chvatal and freshman Kali Jurgensmeier helped the Cavaliers serve at 93.3 percent against the Crusaders.
Neumann finished with just one ace, but many of the serves scrambled the Crusaders defense and kept them from getting into their offense.
Wayne State recruit Kelsie Cada powered a Cavalier offense that finished with 44 kills with 20 against a strong GICC block.
Jurgensmeier played well in her first state tournament game, finishing with 13 kills and hitting .423.
“I think we did a much better job passing the ball in the last three sets. We were able to get the ball to our middles involved better and had more options it seemed,” said Bishop Neumann Coach Brandi Sladky.
Chvatal and Cada paced the Cavalier defense with 19 digs apiece.
Lindsey Thiele and Lauren Thiele combined for 30 more against GICC.
The win put the Cavaliers into their second ever semifinal on Friday against the top-seeded Wahoo Warriors.
The Cavaliers were seeking revenge for a straight set loss in the Class C1-3 sub-district final in Shelby on Oct. 30.
The Cavaliers rallied late in the match, but were eventually beat in four sets 18-25, 18-25, 25-14 and 22-25.
The first two sets were controlled by the Warriors, but the Cavaliers played well in the third set, outscoring Wahoo 14-5 over the last 19 points while pulling out the third set.
The fourth set could have gone either way as the two rivals played to a 22 all tie after 44 points.
A setting error and back-to-back kills from Kyla Swanson and Elly Larson eventually sealed the Cavaliers fate.
“After beating them in three, we had a feeling they were going to bring it,’’ said Wahoo Coach Trish Larson. “They were definitely scrappy, right to the end.’’
Cada had a monster game both offensively and defensively for Neumann. She led the team with 14 kills and seemed to pick up everything sent her way in the back row while piling up 27 digs. She also led the Cavaliers in ace serves with three.
Junior Emily Coufal and Kali Jurgensmeier added eight kills apiece against Wahoo and Lindsey Thiele added seven more.
Lindsey Thiele and Chvatal combined for 31 digs.
Rezac distributed the ball well, handing out 42 set assists.
The loss to Wahoo dropped Neumann into Saturday’s third place match against St. Pau at Lincoln Northeast High School.
The two teams went back-and-forth for five sets before the Wildcats were eventually able to come away with the win 23-25, 18-25, 25-14, 19-25 and 15-12.
Cada led Neumann with 18 kills and got a lot of help from Lindsey Thiele who hammered out 16 more and Kali Jurgensmeier came through with 11 more.
Lindsey Thiele also led the team defensively after finishing with a career-high 32 digs. Cada added 29 more and Lauren Thiele came through with 24 more.
Rezac handed out a season-high 49 set assists against the Wildcats.
The Cavaliers finished the season with 30 wins against just five losses.