SWINGING: Waverly junior Whitney Lauenstein goes up for a kill against Ashland-Greenwood on Sept. 3 in Ashland. The Vikings won the game in three straight sets. (Staff Photo by Suzi Nelson)

WAVERLY – The Vikings moved their record to 5-0 with four wins in the first week of September, highlighted by a tournament championship.

On Tuesday, Sept. 3, the Vikings traveled to Ashland-Greenwood for an area showdown with the Bluejays.

Ashland-Greenwood got progressively better as the match went on but could not stick with the multi-faceted Viking attack losing in three sets, 25-10, 25-13 and 25-18.

The Vikings dominated from every spot on the floor.

Head coach Terri Neujahr said the senior setter Annika Evans did a great job of distributing the ball.

Five Vikings finished with five or more kills as the team finished with 39 kills and only six errors, hitting .541 as a team.

Junior outside hitter Whitney Lauenstein finished with a game-high 12 kills on 19 swings. On the other pin, junior outside hitter Bailey Jeffers rang up nine kills on 11 swings with zero errors.

Jeffers’ .818 hitting percentage wasn’t even the tops among the team versus the Bluejays, as senior middle blocker Abby Plouzek went error free as well. Plouzek finished with six kills on seven swings and a .857 hitting percentage.

Lauenstein and company dominated from the serving stripe as well.

After committing 10 service errors in the season opening win over Lincoln Lutheran, the Vikings committed only six on Tuesday while registering seven aces.

The Bluejay offense had a rough time all night trying to get the ball on the floor.

The Vikings registered 5 blocks, including solo stuffs from Plouzek and fellow senior middle blocker Atley Carey.

The Vikings held Ashland-Greenwood to just .069 hitting on the night, only allowing 14 kills on 58 attempts.

With one win in their collective pocket, the Vikings headed to Beatrice for the one-day Beatrice Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 7.

Waverly was seeded second in the eight-team tournament and drew seventh seeded Bennington in the first round of action.

The Vikings made quick work of the Badgers, 25-7 and 25-12, to take the game 2-0.

Senior Mollie Grosshans led the team with seven of the team’s 22 kills.

Evans finished the game with 19 assists and led the team with four aces on 12 attempts.

The semi-final matchup was a battle of Vikings after Grand Island Northwest beat Beatrice in its opening game, 2-1.

The Waverly Vikings lost the opening set 22-25, before rallying to win the last two games 25-17 and 25-13.

The first set loss was the first Waverly had dropped all year after sweeping their first three opponents.

After playing relatively sharp volleyball Tuesday and in the first round, Neujahr said that her squad came out of the gate a little lax and tentative.

The serving errors that plagued Waverly in their season opening win versus Lincoln Lutheran returned.

Every Waverly Viking that recorded a serve ended the match with at least one error, save for sophomore defensive specialist Karsen Vanscoy. Vanscoy finished with one ace and no errors on 12 attempts.

After losing the first set, Waverly’s defense and attack stepped up to send the maroon and white Vikings to the championship and the black and gold Vikings to the third place game.

Evans found Lauenstein early and often in the second and third games and the junior didn’t disappoint.

The GINW defense could not stop Lauenstein as she finished the game with 17 kills on 30 swings.

Neujahr said she credited Evans for her senior leadership from the setter spot.

“You got to give the reins to your setter,” Neujahr said. “She runs the show.”

The defense continued to dig and block effectively, holding GINW to a .106 hitting percentage.

In the final, Waverly did a bit of the same song second verse.

The errors bug reared its ugly head as the Vikings once again struggled with consistency from a hitting a serving standpoint.

Nine service errors in the match hurt the Vikings as they fought themselves on the way to a 25-21 loss in the opening game.

Neujahr said that physically the Antlers looked to be a good matchup with the Vikings and they made it hard on the Vikings every step of the way.

Lauenstein and Jeffers had success, 12 and seven kills respectively, but both were not as efficient as usual as they hit under .300.

The difference was in the blocking and defense.

The Vikings beat the Antlers at the net, with an advantage of 10 blocks to six.

After losing game one, the Vikings would reel off two wins, 25-16 and 25-22, to win the tournament.

Waverly volleyball will travel to Norris for another invitational, Saturday, Sept. 14.

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