WAYNE — The French call it déjà vu, a feeling of having already experienced the present situation. For Head Coach Patti Cunningham and the Lady Bears volleyball team, last week’s sub-district playoff and eventual result had to seem like déjà vu, as it was a sickening rerun of the 2010 sub-district volleyball saga.
With three of the top-10 volleyball teams in Class C2 thrown into the same sub-district — two from Cedar County alone — fans from all camps have questioned the NSAA. However, the Lady Bears and their rated opponents arrived in Wayne for the C2-6 sub-district playoff to vie for a trip to Grand Island, regardless of the controversy.
After a grueling, thrilling, and exhausting five-set match against Hartington Cedar Catholic on Halloween night, the Lady Bears had to rev up their engines again as they faced defending state champion Lutheran High Northeast last Tuesday.
Having faced the Lady Eagles twice before in their 2011 schedule, LCC knew what they were up against going into the match. Rated number one in the state, with a near flawless record, LHNE was the proverbial Goliath to LCC’s David.
As set one began, the match looked to be one of those all-time greats between two all-time great teams. Both teams went back and forth, earning only one- and two-point leads.
Suddenly, Lutheran grabbed a three-point lead and didn’t look back. They went on to take the first set 13-25, and put the LCC crowd into a lull.
LCC did not give up though, as the second set proved to be closer and more grinding than the first. Again, Lutheran stole a lead late in the frame and won 19-25.
Set three forced LCC to look down the barrel of a season-ending gun. However, the Lady Bears came out roaring and got an early lead on the Lady Eagles. With the lead, the crowd got back into the game and gave the Lady Bears a boost.
It looked like LCC would win and prolong the match as they had a lead and were two points from winning the set. However a pair of service errors allowed Lutheran to knot it up at 24. That small swing in momentum was all the Lady Eagles needed as they quickly scored the final two points, winning the set, 24-26, and the match in three straight.
The Lady Eagles kept the LCC offense fairly quiet through the match. Jade Cunningham led the Lady Bears on offense and defense, racking up 12 kills, 16 assists, two blocks, and seven digs.
Mandy Nelson helped in both phases of the game also, tallying nine kills, 13 assists, one block and six digs. Audrey Kastrup held the back row in check with 12 digs, but the usually proficient Amy Pritchard was limited to only five kills.
The Lady Bears knew that with those final points, their hopes for the State Tournament were probably taken away as well. With seven of the 12 district finalists ahead of LCC in the power points, the prospects of LCC earning a wild card bid seemed slim.
LCC’s fears were confirmed on Saturday morning as the déjà vu nightmare continued. Not only were they edged out of a State Tournament slot after the district finals were finished, but Cedar Catholic snuck into the tournament on the wild card that LCC craved.
The Lady Bears should hold their heads high though. They had another strong season and played some very entertaining matches. A summary of the 2011 season statistics will be published in the Advocate as soon as the information is available.
LCC vs. LHNE: 13-25; 19-25; 24-26
KILLS: Jade Cunningham, 12; Mandy Nelson, 9; Amy Pritchard, 5; Kiley Thompson, 4; Taylor Linn, 3; Dani Huss, 1.
SET ASSISTS: Jade Cunningham, 16; Mandy Nelson, 13; Taylor Linn, 2; Dani Huss, 1.
SOLO BLOCKS: Jade Cunningham, 2; Taylor Linn, 1; Mandy Nelson, 1.
DIGS: Audrey Kastrup, 12; Jade Cunningham, 7; Kiley Thompson, 7; Mandy Nelson, 6; Cameron Eddie, 4; Amy Pritchard, 3; Dani Huss, 1.
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