LAUREL — Class D No. 5 Wynot fought off three set points in the second set on its way to a 25-17, 28-26, 25-23 sweep of Class C No. 5 Ponca in the final of the Lewis an Clark Conference tournament here.
Ponca coach Paige Green complimented the winning Blue Devils, calling them scrappy. “They were digging everything we could throw at them,” she said. “It was disappointing, but it was a really tough, hard-fought match.”
Earlier in the evening, host Laurel-Concord-Coleridge took third place with a 25-13, 23-25 23-15 victory over Class D No. 6 Winside.
Wynot's two-headed monster of 6-foot-1-inch Whitney Hochstein and 5-3 Emersyn Sudbeck sparked the Blue Devil attack.
Hochstein, playing in the front row, delivered 10 kills and and three solo blocks, while Sudbeck dished out 7 set assists while playing the back-row rotations.
“I'm the tallest girl on the team and she's the shortest, so it's even better that way,” Hochstein said. “She's a great setter and a great person to take my back-row spot.”
Wynot coach Tammy Wieseler said the two make for a a great combination. “Whitney with the left hand on that side, she's pretty tough to stop. She can hit cross-court,line and it's hard to pick up where she's going with it.”
Ponca led early in the first set, while benefiting from a series of Wynot service and attack errors. But once the Blue Devils got rolling, they were difficult to stop.
Ponca led 8-6 when a service error started a 7-2 Wynot run. Edyn Sudbeck's tip kill put the Blue Devils on top 14-10.
Gracen Evans scored with a kill to pull the Indians within two at 15-13 but that's the closest they could get as Wynot closed out the set by scoring 10 of the final 14 points.
The second set was like a great heavyweight fight as both teams gave as good as they got with 12 ties and eight lead changes.
Ponca's Josie Reid delivered a kill to give the Indians a 24-22 advantage.
Wynot called time out and responded by fighting off two set points with a Karley Heimes solo block and Edyn Sudbeck kill to tie the score at 24. Karley's tip kill then gave the Blue Devils the lead, 25-24.
Reid registered a kill from the back row to tie it at 25 and Kaci Day followed with a kill off the block to give Ponca a 26-25 advantage and another set point.
But an Indian attack error made it 26-all. Karley and Kaitln Heimes then teamed up for a block that gave the Blue Devils a one-point lead, and Karley brought the set to an end with a rocket down the line that made it 28-26.
Wieseler said Monday night's five-set semifinal thriller over Laurel-Concord-Coleridge set her team up to be able to function well under pressure. “We had to come from behind a couple of times,” she said. “It kind of set us up to understand what that felt like and to be able to persevere through it.”
Green said her team gave Wynot too many easy tips and free balls late in the second set. “They were able to dig those up and come back at us really strong, so I think we were not as aggressive at the net as we could have been.”
That second-set setback seemed to take the air out of the Ponca sails, at least temporarily, as Wynot opened the third with a 5-0 run.
But the Indians battled back with a 6-0 run of their own that included a kill and a pair of blocks by senior Morgan Nelson.
The two teams played fairly evenly throughout the remainder of the set, with neither gaining an an advantage of greater than two points. Alyssa Cosgrove gave Ponca a 22-20 lead.
But right on cue, another Karley Heimes kill triggered a 4-0 Wynot run. Kaitlyn Heimes' kill off the block gave the Blue Devils a 24-22 advantage.
Day fought off a match point with a kill of her own off the block, but Edyn Sudbeck's tip kill made it set, match and championship for Wynot.
Reid recorded a match-high 18 kills for Ponca. Green said she knows the game inside-out. “She's a really great leader and communicator and just really aggressive up at the net.”
Wynot closed out its regular season with a record of 21-3 while Ponca dropped to 23-5. Both teams are off until Monday when both begin play subdistrict play.
Wynot defeats Ponca 25-17, 28-26, 25-23
Wynot (21-3): Kaitlyn Heimes 7k, 1a, 1b; Noelle Wieseler 1k; Emersyn Sudbeck 17s; Karley Heimes 7k, 2b; Edyn Sudbeck 7k, 15s, 2a; Shaelee Planer 4k, 1s, 1b; Katelyn Heine 5k, 3s, 1a; Whitney Hochstein 10k, 1s, 3b.
Ponca (23-5): Josie Reid 18k, 2a, 1b; Alyssa Cosgrove, 6k, 3s; Gracen Evans 6k, 3s; Bree Gill 2s; Kaci Day 8k, 1a, 1b; Morgan Nelson 29s, 1a, 1b; Meg Keller 2a.