Lincoln Lutheran and junior Marriah Buss were too much for Scotus Central Catholic volleyball in Thursday's opening round of the Class C-1 state tournament, sending the Shamrocks home for the season in a 25-21, 25-11, 25-17 final.
Buss piled up a match high 25 kills while her teammates put together 46 total kills compared to just 19 for Scotus.
The Shamrocks were led by Bailey Lehr with 10, but no other player accounted for more than four.
Lincoln Lutheran also controlled the serving game generating seven aces to just one for SCC.
The Shamrocks and Warriors fought to a mostly even match in the first set until a run midway through. Lincoln Lutheran dominated the second and the start of the third until Scotus overcame a seven-point deficit and took a lead.
It was brief however, and Lincoln Lutheran reasserted its control with nine of the final 11 points.
SCC was making its 31st ever trip to the state tournament, tied with Grand Island Central Catholic for second most in NSAA history behind Omaha Marian and Papillion-La Vista with 33 each.
"I was hoping we could be a little more competitive than that, but hats off to Lincoln Lutheran. They've only lost to two or three really good teams this season," coach Janet Tooley said. "The thing with Buss is, she's just a go-to, just a great arm swing. She can just crack the ball even if you put up a great block or you're in the correct place for a dig. She's just tough to stop."
Lincoln Lutheran had lost just three times before Thursday - each of the three were to a team ranked first or second in its respective class.
Buss entered the afternoon second in total kills across all of Nebraska high school volleyball, according to MaxPreps.com, with 551 kills.
Scotus had difficulty containing the 6-foot Wichita State recruit let alone stopping her. Buss put together 11 kills in the opening set, had eight more in the second then six in the final frame.
The Warriors outhit the Shamrocks 17-9 in the first, 16-4 in the second and 13-6 in the third.
"She's just hard to stop. Credit to the rest of them, they just keep the ball in play, and we knew that going in. We knew the way they beat teams is, they keep the ball in play and force you to make your errors," Tooley said. "She's just that good. Look at her kills, look at her kill stats. She's hitting over .400. You don't have a lot of girls at this level doing that."
The match was tied 10 times in the first 28 points when a Lehr kill knotted it for the last time in the first set at 14-14. The Warriors pulled away with the next five points on four kills and an ace. Lehr stopped the run with another shot to the hardwood but four of the next five went to Lincoln Lutheran and forced a timeout at 22-16.
Scotus pulled to within 23-20 before Buss finished off the set victory.
Lincoln Lutheran built an 11-4 lead in the second and was never seriously challenged.
"That's just what Lincoln Lutheran is noted for doing. You can come out strong against them, but trying to maintain that intensity when they're not making errors is extremely difficult," Tooley said. "We went away from swinging. We got timid, and our passing broke down a little bit."
The Warriors jumped out to another big lead in the third, enjoying a seven-point margin until the Shamrocks tied it 11-11 on a block by Amber Buhman, passing error and kill from Emily Stutzman.
A kill by Lehr and a hitting error gave Scotus its first lead since the first set. Buss answered with back-to-back kills and Lincoln Lutheran won 10 of the next 11 to pull away for good.
A Shamrock serving error finished the sweep.
"When you're playing the No. 2 seed, you're not going to win without swinging," Tooley said. "We came around in the third and made it much more interesting, but you're not going to go five sets with a team like that if you're not passing on a dime and swinging well."
Scotus ends the season 19-11 and says goodbye to seniors Lehr, Stutzman, Blaney Dreifurst, Courtney Kosch, Julia Salerno and Abbie Zoucha.
"There's always a lot of pressure on Scotus volleyball because we have such a deep tradition. Credit to our seniors, not only did they get us down here after not being here the last two years, many of them were part of our state basketball championship last year," Tooley said. "A lot of these girls have state soccer and track medals. Overall, not just to the volleyball program, but these girls have meant a lot all around. They still have a lot to contribute in the upcoming seasons."
Lincoln Pius X def. Millard South 25-21, 25-11, 25-17: Pius became the first Lincoln school to advance to the Class A semifinals in four years with a late run in the first set then a dominant second and third.
Omaha Marian def. Papillion-La Vista 24-26, 25-21, 25-20, 25-19
Millard North def Papillion-La Vista South 25-18, 25-12, 25-18
Gretna vs. Millard West
Waverly def. Alliance 25-20, 26-24, 26-24: The Vikings fought out of 24-22 holes in both the second and third sets to claim victory.
Elkhorn South def. GI Northwest 25-14, 25-15, 25-7: The Storm were never seriously challenged. Freshman Kylie Weeks opened the third set with six straight aces.
Omaha Duchesne def. Norris 25-15, 25-22, 25-18: Ducesne had an answer for every Norris run and advanced to Friday's 7 p.m. semifinal against the winner of Elkhorn and Skutt.
Elkhorn vs. Omaha Skutt
St. Paul def. Syracuse 24-26, 25-18, 25-17, 21-25, 15-9: Strong performances from at the service line and from Hayley Fox advanced St. Paul to a matchup Friday with Lincoln Lutheran. Fox totaled 23 kills and eight aces.
Lincoln Lutheran def. Scotus 25-21, 25-11, 25-17
Wahoo Neumann def. GICC: 14-25, 25-22, 25-22, 25-20: Kali Jurgensmeier had 13 kills to lead No. 4 Neumann over No. 3 Grand Island Central Catholic. The Crusaders dominated the first set with Megan Woods collecting six kills but hitting errors in the second, a hot Jurgensmeier in the third then a hot Kelsie Cada with eight kills in the fourth gave the Cavaliers the victory.
Wayne vs. Wahoo
Nate Tenopir is the sports editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at email@example.com