LINCOLN — Perennial powerhouse Grand Island Central Catholic used its vast firepower to overrun Summerland in straight sets 25-14, 25-12, 25-20 in the opening round of the Class C2 state tournament on Thursday at Lincoln Southwest High School.
Several Summerland players — including Brenna Wagner, Summer Schroeder, Tiana Thramer, Sidney Stallbaum and Ashley Koenig — were all part of the Ewing team that finished second place in Class D2 last season.
But the move from D2 to C2 proved to be a bridge too far, especially with an opening-matchup against a traditional juggernaut in GICC that has, in recent years, been among the elite in Class C1.
“It's a lot faster-paced,” Summerland coach Suz Funk said. “We're just glad that we got a chance to come down and be a part of it.”
Grand Island Central Catholic was simply better in every aspect of the game on Thursday. Summerland struggled all night to get its offense in system, and its occasional successes were usually answered by multiple scores on the other side of the net.
The Crusaders finished the match with a 10-1 advantage over the Bobcats in service aces and 40-26 in kills.
“We knew it was going to be a serve-and-pass game and we kind of faltered in that area and they served pretty aggressive at us,” Funk said. “We got intimidated a little bit and it just spiraled.”
GICC overwhelmed the Bobcats in the first two sets, but the girls from Ewing, Clearwater and Orchard came out swinging in the third.
Wagner's kill had the Bobcats on top 3-0, Thramer smashed an Kyra Nilson assist from the middle for a 5-3 advantage, and Schroeder and Stallbaum combined for a block that had the fans in Carolina blue and black on their feet at 9-7.
“We told them, ‘No regrets,’ ” Funk said. “Play with your heart, believe in each other and fight for every point!”
“We just knew that we had to play our ball and not second-guess ourselves and play the game and just have fun,” Thramer said.
It wasn't long before an 8-1 GICC run put the Crusaders ahead to stay, but a Koenig rocket down the line pulled the Bobcats to within 23-20. That proved to be Summerland's final point of the night and season.
Thramer finished the night with nine kills to lead Bobcats. Stallbaum had two blocks, Wagner had 11 digs and Nilson had 24 set assists.
It was a great accomplishment for the new cooperative to end the season in Lincoln. Funk said it might be the start of something big. “The three communities have really been great,” she said. “We're really pleased how everything's come together.”
Summerland ended its inaugural campaign with a record of 28-6.
Class C2 state volleyball tournament
GICC defeats Summerland 25-14, 25-12, 25-20
Summerland (28-6): Brenna Wagner 2k, 1b, 11d; Summer Schroeder 5k, 1b, 8d; Tiana Thramer 9k, 1a, 1d; Sidney Stallbaum 3k, 2b; Avery Cheatum 1k,10d; Kyra Nilson 4d, 24s; Ashley Koenig 6k, 6d.
Grand Island Central Catholic (26-5): Lauryn Willman 2k, 1b, 3a, 12d, 1s; Haily Asche 3d; Courtney Toner 3a, 4d; Kate McFarland 2a, 12d, 1s; Avery Kalvoda 6k, 1b, 2d; Allison Kalvoda 9k, 1b, 2d, 1s; Katie Maser 2k, 2a, 8d, 20s; Rylie Rice 1d; Chloe Cloud 5k, 1b 1d; Gracie Woods 6k, 2b, 1d.