LINCOLN -- Superior saved its best for last in completing an improbable run through the Class C2 state volleyball tournament.
A day after handing previously undefeated Nebraska Christian its first loss of the season in the semifinals, the Wildcats rallied from a 2-1 deficit to defeat former unbeaten and No. 1-ranked Hartington Cedar Catholic 15-25, 25-21, 12-25, 25-14, 15-10 Saturday at the Devaney Sports Center.
The win earned the No. 5 Wildcats their first ever state championship in volleyball.
Superior coach Kelsea Blevins gave credit to her players following the exhilarating match.
“An insane desire to win,” Blevins said. “This is an incredible group of girls, that don’t have attitudes or argue. They have one goal together. They work together so well.”
Once again the cardiac Wildcats were led by standout sophomore Kalynn Meyer.
The 6-foot-3 Nebraska recruit ignited a fifth-set rally with back-to-back kills as Superior turned a 9-7 deficit into a 12-9 lead. Her 27 kills on the day were a match-high.
After the Trojans trimmed the lead to 12-10, the Wildcats scored the match’s final three points on two Cedar Catholic hitting errors and an ace serve by libero Trisha Hayes.
"It’s so exciting that we pulled it out today," Meyer said. "The first set we were super-hyped and a little rattled. It was nice to calm down after that and play well.”
Early on, Hartington Cedar Catholic played like the dominant team they’ve been all year.
The 34-1 Trojans buzzed through the Wildcats in the opening set, getting five kills from Maddie Wieseler and four each from Jada Cattau and Anna Reifenrath.
And after Superior answered with a second set win, the Trojans again dispatched the Wildcats quickly in the third set.
However a 12-0 run in the fourth set saw the Wildcats turn an 8-8 score into a 20-8 advantage.
Superior’s attacking style dominated the run. Nine kills (four by Meyer), an ace serve, and a double block highlighted the flurry.
Trojans coach Denae Buss complimented Meyer’s play, but said the Wildcats’ diversity on offense played a pivotal role in the outcome. Six additional Wildcats recorded a kill in the match. Senior outside hitter Nicki Kirchoff reached double figures with 11.
“We got some good blocks and touches on her (Meyer) which helped us on defense,” Buss said. “But once they started spreading it around it made it tough.”
What started as a simple goal to win the first-ever set in school history for Superior, turned into an epic run and a state championship for the school and community to be proud of.
“Our first goal was to win a set because our school had never won a set at state volleyball,” Blevins said. “When we won our first match it was like ... 'Wow! this is the real deal.' In the championship it was a feeling of passion, pride and determination.”