Published Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 10:06 am / Updated at 11:42 pm
VOLLEYBALL
Class A: No. 1 Wildcats turn back Islanders

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. — Millard West looked the part of a top-ranked team Thursday in its opening match at the state volleyball tournament.

The No. 1 Wildcats swept eighth-seeded Grand Island 25-10, 25-16, 25-18 in a Class A first-round match at the Heartland Events Center. Millard West, seeking its first volleyball title, advances to a 9 a.m. semifinal Friday while the Islanders finish their season 22-14.

“I was pleased with the way we started the match,” Wildcats coach Erin Byrd said. “And when we got behind a little later, we kept our composure.”

Millard West (35-2) wasn't behind very often, and not at all in the first set. The Wildcats went on a 12-point run behind the strong serving of junior Kira Shapiro and rolled to a 15-point win.

The Islanders stayed close in the second set, but the Wildcats went on a late eight-point run to turn a 16-15 lead into a 24-15 advantage. The set ended when a serve by the Islanders went long.

Grand Island held the upper hand early in the third set, opening a 9-5 lead and prompting Byrd to call a timeout. Millard West battled back to get it tied at 11 and then took the lead for good at 14-13 on a rare kill by libero Emily Leichner, only her sixth of the season.

The Wildcats continued to pull away and ended the match on a kill by senior Alexis Anderson.

Anderson finished with 11 kills while senior Kamesha Young added nine.

“We played Grand Island before (two Millard West sweeps) so we knew what we had to do,” Young said. “It's just really exciting to be playing in the tournament.”

Byrd said the experience her squad gained at the state tourney last year helped Thursday. Millard West reached the semifinals in 2012 before losing to eventual state champion Papillion-La Vista South.

“A lot of our kids have been through this before,” she said. “I thought they were really focused for this match.”

The victory extended the Wildcats' win streak to 16.

Grand Island (22-14)......................10 16 18
Millard West (35-2).........................25 25 25

GI (kills-aces-blocks): Savana Peterson 1-0-0, Sierra Peterson 5-0-1, Sarah Splattstoesser 5-2-2, Ashton Riedy 5-1-0, Abby Crouch 3-0-1, Mackenzie Puckett 3-0-0, Madison Huismann 3-1-3, McKenzie Fyfe 1-0-0.

MW: Emily Leichner 1-0-0, Kamesha Young 9-2-1, Alexis Anderson 11-0-0, Sydney Yong 1-0-0, Cassidy Loberg 3-0-2, Kira Shapiro 6-3-1, Tiffany Wentworth 1-1-0.

Set assists: GI 21 (Fyfe 21); MW 26 (Wentworth 26).

Contact the writer: Mike Patterson

mike.patterson@owh.com    |   402-444-1350    |  

Mike covers high school sports, primarily volleyball in the fall, girls basketball in the winter and baseball in the spring and summer.

TEAM TRACKER »
GAME OF THE WEEK »
Each week during the high school sports season, NEPrepZone.com highlights a matchup in the ongoing "Hiland Dairy Game of the Week" series. Previous matchups »

Refuel with Hiland »


SEARCH
ON TWITTER »
LIVE CHAT
< >
SPOTLIGHT »
2013 All-Nebraska football, volleyball teams
View The World-Herald's selections to the 2013 All-Nebraska football and volleyball teams.
2013 Super Six football team
Meet The World-Herald's 2013 Super Six team, honoring the area's top college football prospects.
All-Nebraska basketball teams 'shake' it up
Being known more for their ability to shake off a defender than for their dance moves didn't stop our 2013 All-Nebraska basketball selections from busting a few "Harlem Shake"-inspired moves.
Facebook: Nebraska Prep Zone Page
The Nebraska Prep Zone Facebook page is your home on the social web to get the latest Nebraska prep sports news, photos, updates and more from around the Midlands.
Map: Nebraska Stadiums
Need help finding a stadium in the state of Nebraska? We've got you covered with this interactive map of high school and college facilities from across the state.
Nebraska high school all-time swimming leaders
See a complete list of the all-time leaders from Nebraska high school swimming and diving competition.
Nebraska high school all-time track charts
See a complete list of the all-time leaders from Nebraska high school track and field competition.
The disappearance of small-town football
Friday night lights across rural Nebraska are going dark. But one town, in its last season of gridiron independence, proved that school spirit is stronger than ever.
Western Iowa high school all-time track charts
See a complete list of the all-time leaders from Western Iowa high school track and field competition.