GRAND ISLAND, Neb. — After overcoming several obstacles this season, a false alarm on match point in the state tournament final wasn't going to stop Norris.
Senior Kasey Hohlen delivered the final kill to lead the Titans to a 25-19, 25-22, 25-22 win over Elkhorn South in the Class B championship match Saturday night at the Heartland Events Center. It was the second state title for Norris and the first since 1991.
Hohlen's kill came two points after it appeared Norris had captured the crown on another Hohlen kill. But an official ruled her shot hadn't hit the floor and, with Titans bench players running on the court to celebrate, awarded the point to the Storm.
“I was busy celebrating, too,” Norris coach Christina Boesiger said. “I didn't really see it, but I told our girls to stay focused and do it again.”
After Elkhorn South won the next point to pull within 24-22, Hohlen put down the final kill to officially end the match.
“She told me on the bench after we took that timeout (at 24-22) that she wanted the ball again,” Boesiger said. “It was a little crazy, but I'm just so happy that we won.”
It's been a tough season for the Titans, who have battled through injuries and the subsequent shifting of players. But Norris persevered, playing its best volleyball late in the season — including a stunning semifinal win Friday night over previously unbeaten and top-ranked Grand Island Northwest.
“We knew Elkhorn South was a good team and we had to keep our energy up,” Hohlen said. “We knew that they could be really dangerous.”
The final was an unlikely match between the sixth-seeded Titans and the eighth-seeded Storm. Elkhorn South was coming off a grueling five-set win over Omaha Skutt in the late semifinal Friday night and didn't have quite the same jump Saturday night.
“It was a late night for us,” Storm coach Briana Ritter said. “But they also had a tough match (against Northwest), so we're not going to make any excuses. They were the better team tonight.”
Norris opened a six-point lead midway through the first set and held that advantage to the end, taking the set 25-19.
The second set went much the same way, though the Storm were able to inch within 24-22 on a block by Kelsey Green. The Titans finished off the set on a kill by Kasey Hohlen's sister Kylie.
The third set was close, but Norris was able to take the lead for good at 16-15 when an Elkhorn South shot failed to clear the net. The Titans stretched their lead to 24-19 and won the match three points later on Hohlen's kill deep in the corner.
Kasey Hohlen led the Titans with 16 kills while Kylie Hohlen added 15. Setter Marisa Moseman had 34 assists.
“These girls are so deserving,” Boesiger said. “They've been through a lot this year, but they've been very focused the past 10 days to try and win this title.”
Kelsey Green had nine kills to lead the Storm and Emily Gregan had seven.
Elkhorn South (22-14) .......................................... 19 22 22
Norris (30-8) ......................................................... 25 25 25
ES (kills-aces-blocks): Kelsey Green 9-0-3, Emily Gregan 7-2-1, Leslie Booth 2-1-0, Ashley Knight 1-0-0, Sarah Swanson 3-0-1, Allison Rogers 3-0-0.
N: Marisa Moseman 1-1-1, Kylie Hohlen 15-1-0, Jordyn Clauss 4-1-0, Payton Ruhl 3-0-1, Andrea Jameson 3-1-2, Kasey Hohlen 16-1-2.
Set assists: ES 20 (Knight 19, Booth 1), N 36 (Moseman 34, Ruhl 2).