DAVID CITY — No team enjoys losing, but some defeats are easier to swallow than others.
Scotus Central Catholic had one on Saturday.
The Shamrocks lost in straight sets to defending Class C-1 state champion Omaha Concordia to finish second at the Centennial Conference volleyball tournament in David City.
With five conference members currently ranked in either C-1 or C-2 and Concordia and Scotus both listed as C-1 ratings contenders by the Lincoln Journal Star, reaching the championship match is no easy feat in what Shamrock head coach Janet Tooley refers to as a “mini-state tournament.”
“It’s a real accomplishment in this conference to be in the final match — definitely nothing to hang our heads about,” she said.
The Shamrocks, who won the conference title in 2015 and finished sixth last season, took down C-1, No. 7 Wahoo Neumann on Thursday and outlasted a pesky David City Aquinas team playing on its home court in Saturday’s semifinal match to set up the showdown with Concordia.
Scotus (14-7) played right with the Mustangs in the first set.
After falling behind early, the Shamrocks rallied to take an 18-17 lead then exchanged blows with Concordia through the next nine points.
Concordia (16-9) broke a 22-all tie by taking the final three points, including a set-ending block.
“We kind of let them off the hook with some of our unforced errors in the first set, because that was really ours to win and we didn’t quite get it done,” Tooley said.
The Mustangs, who beat C-1, No. 1 Grand Island Central Catholic in three sets in the semifinals, removed most of the suspense from the second set against Scotus.
The Shamrocks led 1-0 on a block by senior Shania Borchers, one of her team-leading three in the match, then Concordia took control, winning the set 25-19 to complete the sweep.
Tooley said her team proved it can play with the top teams in Class C-1, but the Shamrocks will need to eliminate some mental mistakes to consistently come out on top in these matches.
“Thursday night we got that done, which got us by a really good Neumann team,” she said. “Today we were a little bit shaky on that again.”
Senior Elley Beaver led Scotus with 12 kills and two aces against Concordia, which beat the Shamrocks in four sets to open the season at Dowd Activity Center.
Junior Courtney Kosch added six kills and a block, and Borchers had four kills and two aces to go along with her block total. Abbie Zoucha, a junior, dished out 23 assists and senior Kayla Hall recorded a team-leading 14 digs.
Scotus defeated Aquinas in two sets in the semifinal match, but the Monarchs didn’t make it easy.
The first set was tied at 23-all before the teams fought off a combined six set points. Scotus eventually took the set 31-29 when a shot from Aquinas sailed long.
The Shamrocks led 11-6 in the second set following a 5-0 run but couldn’t extend the advantage. Aquinas closed the gap to 22-20, then Scotus answered by scoring the final three points, including a match-clinching serve from Beaver that hit the top of the net and fell to the floor.
“The fans certainly got their money’s worth,” Tooley said of the win, her team’s second over Aquinas in the past month.
Beaver had 10 kills in that match, and Borchers recorded four kills and a team-best three blocks. Zoucha tallied 17 assists while Kosch and Hall tied for the team lead with eight digs each.
Aquinas (12-6) lost to GICC (19-2) in two sets in the third-place match. The Monarchs host C-1, No. 4 Lincoln Lutheran (19-4) on Tuesday.
Scotus faces Kearney Catholic (12-13) on Tuesday to begin a stretch of four straight home matches before closing the regular season at Class B, No. 1 Omaha Skutt (20-4).
The Shamrocks will play Class C-2, No. 3 Fremont Bergan (15-5), Lincoln Lutheran and Hastings St. Cecilia (10-13) between those contests.
“There’s some tough conference matches ahead of us yet to give us an opportunity to get ready for our district,” Tooley said.