COLUMBUS — Scotus Central Catholic let a match slip away Tuesday against Wahoo Neumann as the Shamrocks led late in the fourth set but were unable to force a deciding fifth set.
They weren’t going to let that happen again.
Class C-1, No. 7 Neumann (13-4) clawed back from a 20-14 deficit to tie the third set of Thursday's best-of-three match at 22-all.
Then the Shamrocks (13-6), a ratings contender, ripped off three straight points to win the set and match (19-25, 25-22, 25-22) in the quarterfinals of the Centennial Conference Tournament at Dowd Activity Center.
The difference between the two matches for Scotus was fundamentals — things like correct body positioning and blockers having their hands parallel to the net instead of turned slightly.
“It wasn’t like we reinvented the wheel,” Scotus head coach Janet Tooley said. “We just focused on those fundamentals that will cost us matches if we didn’t get them corrected.”
The home-court advantage also helped.
Once Neumann closed the gap in the final set, Tooley used her final timeout to talk to her team.
“We put ourselves in this situation, now do we have the fortitude to get out of it?” she said.
The Shamrocks refocused and closed out the match, collecting their third win over a rated team this season.
Scotus also handed No. 1 Grand Island Central Catholic its only loss of the season and Class C-2, No. 5 Stanton one of its two losses.
Tooley said playing in the Centennial Conference prepares the Shamrocks each year to play top-ranked teams.
“If you want to play the best, you’ve got to beat the best,” she said. “We don’t have a choice, that’s just our conference schedule.”
The teams went back and forth in the first set until the Cavaliers used a 9-3 to close it out with a 25-19 win.
Scotus got on a roll in the second set, jumping out to an 18-9 lead. Neumann came back and fought off three set points to make it 24-22 before the Shamrocks finished the set victory to even the match at 1-all.
A quick start and strong finish sealed the win for Scotus in the final set.
Elley Beaver led the Shamrocks with 13 kills and a couple of solo blocks. Courtney Kosch and Madison Kerkman had six kills each and Kosch added 13 digs.
The Shamrocks advance to Saturday’s semifinal in David City to face David City Aquinas. The ninth-seeded Monarchs had to win two matches Thursday to advance to the semifinals. Aquinas beat Hastings St. Cecilia 25-17, 25-22 in a play in match, then beat top-seeded Fremont Bergan 19-25, 25-23, 25-21.
Scotus beat the Monarchs in straight sets on Sept. 12, but Aquinas (12-4) has since won eight of 10 matches.