LINCOLN — Clarkson/Leigh hung with Bruning-Davenport/Shickley for two sets, but the Eagles dominated the third and fourth to win Thursday's opening-round match in the Class D-1 state tournament at Lincoln East High School.
“BDS is a solid team. They beat us,” Clarkson/Leigh head coach Becky Schneider said.
Serve-receive was the difference in the match as BDS overwhelmed Clarkson/Leigh in the final two sets of the 26-24, 22-25, 25-14, 25-17 win.
“They served aggressive at us and we couldn’t handle it,” Schneider said. “We couldn’t get our passes connected so we couldn’t run our offense.”
Sydney Folken, Clarkson/Leigh’s only senior, had a team-high 11 kills and two blocks.
The Eagles were led by the tandem of Carley Elznic and Jadyn Kleinschmidt. Elznic had a match-best 16 kills while Kleinschmidt recorded 15 kills and five aces.
For two sets, it looked like the sixth-seeded Patriots (25-10) would give No. 3 BDS (27-5) everything it could handle.
Unfazed by the atmosphere of state, Clarkson/Leigh jumped out to a 7-2 lead to open the match.
“I was very happy with the way we started,” Schneider said.
BDS battled back to take a 9-8 lead, but the Patriots ripped off four straight points to go up 12-9 in a set of runs.
Down 16-15 later in the set, the Eagles scored five straight points to take a 20-16 lead. Then Clarkson/Leigh answered with five consecutive points, followed by four straight from BDS.
The Patriots fought off three set points to even the match at 24-all before BDS made the final run to win the set.
The Eagles carried that momentum into the second set, taking an 8-4 lead early on. Clarkson/Leigh came back to take a brief 12-11 advantage before BDS won nine of the next 13 points to go up 20-16.
The Patriots rallied again, this time with a 9-2 run to win the set 25-22.
Schneider knew her players wouldn't go down easy. They've fought hard all season, including in the district final when they beat Lourdes Central Catholic after losing the first set.
“I think we battled pretty well,” she said.
Slow starts doomed Clarkson/Leigh in the final two sets.
The Patriots fell behind 10-3 in the third set and 6-0 in the fourth set and weren’t able to get within four points the rest of the way.
Junior Beth Wiese added nine kills for Clarkson/Leigh and sophomore Ashlynn Novotny had seven kills and four blocks.
With just one senior on the team, Schneider doesn’t expect this trip to the state tournament to be a one-time thing.
“We plan on being back next year,” she said.
The Patriots, who have seven juniors on the roster, hope to take the next step a year from now.
“Now that we’ve been here and experienced it, our girls know what it takes,” Schneider said. “They’re going to want it. They have a taste of it and they’re going to want to go get it next year.”