The Niobrara Valley Conference announced the matchups for the upcoming volleyball tournament today.
The first two rounds are scheduled for Monday, Oct. 22. The semifinals are Tuesday Oct. 23 and the third-place and championship matches are scheduled for Friday Oct. 26.
Ewing received the top seed after a perfect regular season. The Lady Tigers host the winner of Clearwater/Orchard and O'Neill St. Mary's at 7:30 p.m., after the OC and St. Mary's match at 6:15 p.m.
Neligh-Oakdale plays Santee Monday at 6:15 p.m. in Tilden and the winner faces the No. 3 seed, Elkhorn Valley at 7:30 p.m.
Elgin Public/Pope John hosts Niobrara/Verdigre Monday at 5 p.m. The winner of the EPPJ-N/V match faces the Boyd County and West Holt winner at 7 p.m. at Elgin.
Tuesday's semifinals will be held at West Holt and the final day of the tournament is at Niobrara on Friday.
Throughout the month of October, communities and organization across the country show their support for breast cancer awareness.
During athletic events, players are seen donning pink and honor breast cancer survivors, and those who have passed, throughout the month.
One local gym is showing their support through a special event, which is open to the public.
CrossFit 1026, a gym in Norfolk on West Omaha Avenue, is hosting a national event to raise money for breast cancer awareness cleverly known as Barbells for Boobs.
“This is out first time doing Barbells for Boobs and we’re excited to have it start here,” stated CrossFit 1026 owner Ryan Goodwin. “It’s a nationwide event that takes place during October. We have funding throughout the year.”
Barbells for Boobs is a national event started in 2011 by Zionna Hanson after her best friend, at the age of 26, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Although Hanson’s friend, Cecy, had insurance and a referral from her physician, Cecy was initially denied breast screening services by medical professionals and was recommended for “mammography at age 40”. For the past seven years, Hanson has grown Barbells for Boobs into a global multi-million dollar organization, which drives social change.
“Our mission for Barbells for Boobs is to mobilize people to take action in breast cancer,” Goodwin said. “We diagnose, while also using fitness and community, as a way to promote breast cancer awareness and create a community that advocates detection, fitness and wellness.”
It is not uncommon to see CrossFit gyms across the United States take part in a greater cause. Gyms all over the U.S. have different workouts and events every year to benefit the community or honor community members.
“We’re huge on community,” Goodwin added. “We love to see people succeed and when one person succeeds in our gym, it helps the whole community as a whole. Each individual that comes in here and does a workout, feeds off each other. They see one person doing well or working hard, they have another individual to do some friendly competition with or push the other. We’re really big on family and community.”
Goodwin was affected by breast cancer and thought this event was a great way to honor those who have been affected by this disease
“It’s a great way to give back to the community,” Goodwin said. “My mom was an individual who has been affected by breast cancer. I thought it was a great way to give her some acknowledgment and some props for fighting something that affects a lot of people worldwide.”
Barbell for Boobs starts at 6 p.m. on Friday at the CrossFit 1026 site. The event begins with an opening ceremony, followed by a kids workout (burpees for boobs). Adults then complete the workout “Helen Meets Grace.”
“Helen Meets Grace” is a two-person team workout consisting of three rounds of a 400 meter run, 21 kettlebell swings and 12 pull-ups. Then the team must complete 30 clean and jerks as fast as possible.
The day concludes with a BBQ for all the participants and their families.
“We like to gather after big events like this,” Goodwin said. “After a long, hard workout we feed each other and get everybody some energy and nutrients, and also get to know each other. A lot of times when we’re working out, we do the workout in an hour and people have other obligations and things they need to get taken care of. They go and do their thing and don’t get to talk, chat and figure out who it who in the community. It’s a nice way to reconnect with each individual.”
It is a free-will donation event. Goodwin has setup a fund-raiser page at https://www.barbellsforboobs.org/fundraisers/CrossFit-1026 and hopes to raise $1,200. Participants can reserve a spot for the event on the CrossFit 1026 Facebook page. Even if the workout portion is not for you, a person can still make a donation for this great cause and attend the event to cheer on the competitors.
As of Monday, the gym was a quarter of the way there.
“When you come for the workout, we just ask for a donation,” Goodwin concluded. “You can donate $2 or $10, but know that a $120 helps one individual for our event. This money goes nationwide for every individual who might want detection at a younger age or who needs help.”
Friday will be a day full of sweat, fun and bonding for a great cause.
A late fourth-quarter touchdown guided the Neligh-Oakdale football team to a 24-18 victory over Clearwater/Orchard last week.
The Warriors opened the game with a 33-yard touchdown pass from Aiden Kuester to Carson Whitesel. Kuester's two-point conversion run gave N-O an 8-0 lead.
Following a OC score, Kuester found Bryson Gadeken for a 53-yard touchdown to give the Warriors a 16-6 lead at the half.
Two third-quarter touchdowns by the Cyclones put OC ahead 18-16 heading into the final stanza.
The Warriors scored the game-winning drive with more than three minutes remaining in the contest, as Kuester connected on a 24-yard TD pass to Whitesel, then completed the two-point conversion with a pass to Landon Schrader.
Kuester led the offense with 85 yards rushing, 156 passing yards and three passing touchdowns. Whitesel caught three passes for 74 yards and two TDS, Gadeken recorded four catches for 51 yards and a score, Chase Furstenau had four-yards rushing and Austin Rudolf added two yards on the ground.
The Warriors' defense was led by Kuester with a team-best 15 tackles. Rudolf tallied nine tackles, Whitesel and Schrader collected five tackles each, Furstenau had two tackles, Gadeken and Trysten Coover each accounted for a tackle and Colson Krebs picked off a pass.
Neligh-Oakdale (5-0) wraps up its regular season today at Warrior Field against Lutheran High Northeast at 4:30 p.m.
Osmond's high-powered offense guided the Tigers to an 80-8 victory over Elgin Public/Pope John's football team Friday evening during EPPJ’s homecoming game.
"I thought we came out right away and battled hard," stated EPPJ coach Randy Eisenhauer. "With eight minutes (gone in the first) we were down 14-0. Our kids came and battled right away, but then we got put in a hole and it went downwards from there."
It was all Osmond from the start, led by its dual-threat quarterback Anthony Heiman.
The senior gunslinger record more than 200 yards on the ground, more than 100 yards through the air and six total touchdowns in the first half.
After a rough offensive start, EPPJ finally got its offense going late in the second quarter.
The Wolfpack drove all the way to the Tigers' 11-yard line thanks to 37 rushing yards by Hunter Reestman during the drive.
With four ticks remaining in the half, Conor Ramold found Reestman at the one yard line, but the Osmond defender pushed Reestman out of bounds before he reached the pylon as time expired in the half.
Osmond added three more rushing touchdowns in the second half to extend its lead.
EPPJ broke its two-game scoreless streak when Reestman scored from a yard out in the fourth. Ramold found Adam Dreger for the two-point conversion on the ensuing play.
For the Wolfpack, this was the first time since week two EPPJ had all 14 players suited up.
"It's nice," Eisenhauer said. "For the first time since week two, we had all 14 guys back. During that time when you don't have everyone here and only 11 or 12 kids, it takes a toll on you. The kids keep battling and we had some good things happen to us tonight. We have to go back and finish the year."
Osmond scored on every drive and six of its 11 scores were 30 yards or more. Heiman led the Tigers with nearly 400 yards of total offense, three passing touchdowns and four rushing scores. Josh Gansebom, Connor Gutz, Bryan Solorzano and Patrick Vinson each tallied rushing touchdowns, while Justus Maertins had two receiving scores and Gansebom caught a TD pass.
Reestman rushed for 98 yards and the lone touchdown for the Wolfpack. Kyle Schumacher rushed for 39 yards, Ramold passed for 22 yards and Dreger caught a pass for 15 yards.
Elgin Public/Pope John wraps up its season Thursday against Winside at 7 p.m.
"I always tell my kids I don't want us to ever quit," Eisenhauer concluded. "I don't care if I got an undefeated team or if I got a team with one win or no wins. They must always battle and that's my thing. I always say effort and energy goes a long way. That's what we're going to preach next week and hopefully we can play a good game next week."
What was suspected to be an offensive shootout between the Neligh-Oakdale and Elkhorn Valley football teams, turned into a defensive struggle Friday afternoon. The Warriors escaped Tilden with a 28-16 victory over the Falcons.
"I'm just glad we won," stated N-O mentor Ron Beacom. "I thought their kids came out and played extremely hard. It was a pretty physical game between a couple of teams trying to get three or four wins. Both teams played pretty physical and you could tell both teams wanted this game pretty bad. Defensively, we did a a pretty good job of understanding the overall game plan and I'm proud of the kids for doing that. No one would have dreamt this game would be this low scoring."
"Our boys fought hard like they have all season," commented EV coach Brendan Dittmer. "It's unfortunate to play hard like we did against Howells-Dodge, Osceola/High Plains and Neligh-Oakdale tonight, and come up on the short end of the stick."
N-O struck first in the opening stanza with a Jayden Arehart three-yard touchdown run and a Brock Kester two-point conversion run for the early 8-0 advantage.
EV knotted the game at eight in the second quarter with a 15-yard strike from Braedyn Ollendick to Adam Miller. Ollendick ran in the two-point conversion to tie the game.
Two drives later, the Warriors reclaimed the lead on a 25-yard TD pass from Hunter Charf to Austin Rice and took a six-point lead into the break.
Midway through the third, Kester connected on a 34-yard touchdown pass to Arehart. Kester found Garret Belitz for the two-point conversion, giving the maroon and white a 22-8 advantage.
On Elkhorn Valley's opening drive of the fourth, the Falcons drove 61 yards, in 12 plays and cut the deficit to six on Josh McFarland's one-yard scoring run.
The Warriors answered with a nine-play drive, concluding with an Arehart four-yard TD run.
"One thing coach (George) Loofe always hammered home to our kids, when he was helping in the past, is that good teams answer," Beacom recalled." That's exactly what he always said and our kids did that today. When they scored, things could've gone in the other direction. We made sure we kept a little bit of an edge and it worked out for us."
The two defenses took over from there, both forcing a turnover and not allowing any more scoring for the final five minutes of play.
"It was a pretty good win," Rice said. "We all knew they (EV) were a going to come out with a high level of energy and we needed to match that and match the physicality. We started slow in the first half, but we began to pick things up in the beginning of the second half. We did what we do best."
Arehart led the Warriors with 98 total yards and three touchdowns. Charf went 11 of 18 passing for 140 yards and a score, Kester passed for 47 yards and a TD and Andrew Herley gained 159 yards of total offense.
"We made a few mistakes and when I watch the film, I'm not going to be happy with a few things," Beacom said. "On the other hand, I think they (EV) had something to do with that. I have to give coach Dittmer credit for the work him and his staff did and the work his kids did. They've done a hell of a job and I commend them. We're happy to leave here 4-3."
The N-O defense held the potent EV offense to its lowest point total of the season and less than 70 yards on the ground. Rice led the defense with two interceptions and Kaleb Pofahl added a pick in the fourth quarter.
"We came in knowing we would have to play a great defensive game because they're a great offensive team," Rice noted. "All of us practiced pretty hard, scout (team) gave a good look and we came in here prepared."
Ollendick passed for 189 yards and a score, but threw three interceptions in the loss. McFarland gained 55 yards on the ground with a touchdown, Brock Schaecher caught nine passes for more than 74 yards and Miller added 77 yards receiving and a score.
"The first half, we got in good position but shot ourselves in the foot with penalties," Dittmer said. "Second half we did a better job, but playing from behind changes the game plan. Neligh really did a good job on McFarland and it took away a lot of what we wanted to do. I was proud of our effort in the second half, we just came up short."
Elkhorn Valley (2-5) needs a win in its final game of the season at Laurel-Concord-Coleridge Friday at 7 p.m. to keep its playoff hopes alive.
"My message to the kids was we could give ourselves an outside shot at playoffs, but we have to take care of our side and it doesn't happen if we don't beat Laurel," Dittmer said. "We need to have our heads on right come Monday and we need to be ready to put work in."
Neligh-Oakdale (4-3) looks to continue its hot streak Thursday against Lutheran High Northeast at Warrior Field.
"It's no secret, Lutheran High hasn't scored fewer than 52 points in a game, and that was to Howells-Dodge who I think plays pretty good defense," Beacom said. "The big thing is we have to continue to do what we do defensively to keep the score down on their end and make sure we execute at a higher level. We're not going to be able to afford to make mistakes. I don't think we have to be perfect, but we have to be pretty good."
Since starting the season 0-2, the Warriors have won four of their last five and look to lock a spot in the playoffs with a big win over the Eagles.
"I hope we come in Monday ready to rock and roll," Rice concluded. "Lutheran High is a great team, but they're not unbeatable. They're a pretty good team. Our energy is high, our spirits are high and I think it will carry over and we'll have a good week of practice."
The Elgin Public/Pope John volleyball team held off Niobrara/Verdigre for a four set win Thursday.
After falling in the first set, 25-11, the Lady Cougars bounce back to claim the second set, 25-21.
The Lady Wolfpack won the third set handily, 25-10, and held on to win the fourth set, 26-24, and the match.
Kaylee Martinsen led EPPJ with 19 kills, three blocks and nine digs. Allyson Wemhoff recorded a double-double with 15 digs and 39 assists, Kayce Kalthoff collected 11 kills, Harlie Bode tallied seven kills and eight blocks, Kirsten Krebs had five blocks, Haley Zegers added four blocks and 19 digs, Grace Rittscher accounted for 15 digs and Anna Heilhecker pitched in 21 digs.
Niobrara/Verdigre (3-19) opens the Knox County Tournament with Wausa Monday at 4:30 p.m.
Elgin Public/Pope John (16-9) travels to Burwell Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.
A huge second quarter propelled the Clearwater/Orchard football team past O'Neill St. Mary's, 54-8, Thursday.
Leading 8-0 after the opening stanza following a Chris Kester touchdown pass to Jacob Long, the Cyclones exploded for 24 points in the quarter to take a 32-0 lead into the break.
Kester connected on three TD passes in the second, one to Clay Thiele and two Long.
Houston Marino and Eli Macke each added a rushing score in the third.
After the Cardinals' first score in the fourth, Austin Pokorny scored from two-yards out for OC's final touchdown.
The win clinches at least a share of the District 5 title for the Cyclones.
Kester completed 11 passes for 127 yards and four touchdowns. Macke rushed for 88 yards and a score, Pokorny accounted for 55 total yards and a rushing TD and Long caught five passes for 52 yards and three touchdowns.
OC looks to win the district crown outright Thursday against Chambers/Wheeler Central at 3 p.m. at Clearwater.
Despite competing at one of the toughest districts in the state, several local runners qualified for next week's state cross country meet after great performances at Thursday's D-3 District meet at Norfolk's Skyview Lake.
“This is definitely the hardest district in Class D,” said N-O senior Cole Belitz. “Not saying there’s not tough teams and competition throughout Class D, but the teams and individuals that got put into this one was very competitive and very hard. Everybody deserved it in that top-15 today.”
Neligh-Oakdale junior Emma Bixler and Belitz each placed fourth, in their respective races, to advance to next week’s state meet.
“I’m really proud and excited by their performances today,” stated N-O mentor Rick Eickholt. “They kind of flip-flopped a little. Throughout the season, Emma has been the one who has had a really strong finish and Cole has been totally spent at the finish line. Today, Emma tied up a little bit at the last 100 meters and Cole had a fantastic kick at the end and passed two really good runners from Norfolk Catholic.”
This is Belitz's second trip to the state race, while Bixler is making her first trip to Kearney after just missing out last year.
“I’m very excited,” Bixler said. “I knew I had to do it (qualify for state) this year after last year I struggled so much and didn’t go to state. I knew this was something I had to do and had to accomplish. I prepared my best and I’m glad that all my efforts came out with a qualification.”
Elkhorn Valley sophomore Hunter Bennett is making a return trip to Kearney after placing seventh in the boys race.
“It feels good,” Bennett said. “You can’t quit too early and you have to give it your all. You hope that it’s not your last race of the season.”
In the girls race, Bixler jumped right to the front of the pack to give herself a comfortable cushion down the stretch.
“My actual strategy was to stay in the middle and work my way up in the end,” Bixler said. “There’s a lot of hills at the end that you have to save energy for. I can never predict how everyone else is going to run, so I ran my own race and it worked out how it worked out.”
Bixler crossed the finish line at 21:16.99.
The Lady Warriors’ Hailey Bixler (25:26.3) took 39th and Sydney Olson (30:15.68) claimed 59th.
The boys race was a battle from start to finish. Belitz ran a very smart race and cruised to a fourth-place finish at 17:39.
“I never ran on this course before and I didn’t know what to expect,” Belitz said. “There’s a lot of uphill and a lot of downhill, so I didn’t want to go out too fast or too slow. I found that happy medium in the beginning and stuck with it. I passed a few bodies in the middle and in the end, you just give everything you had. That’s the way I ran today.”
Bennett knew it was going to be a dogfight for those top-15 spots, but the sophomore Falcon stayed confident and claimed seventh-place with a time of 17:54.
“The nerves are always there,” Bennett noted. “I used Cole (Belitz) to push me and I just have to stay close to him because I know he is running hard.”
Other finishers for the Warriors were Griffin Claussen (19:25.01) in 33rd, Christian Carothers (20:20.01) in 51st, Ashton Higgins (20:30) in 54th, Cameron Wilkinson (21:09) in 74th and Thomas Johnson (22:17) in 88th.
Elkhorn Valley's Damian Smith (20:37) was 58th, Walter Furstenau (20:46) was 64th, Reed Bennett (20:52) was 67th, Brandon Evans (20:57) was 70th and Colton Rystrom (21:26) was 79th.
“We were really happy where Hunter placed,” said EV coach Janet Rood. “We were really worried with the competition, but he had a great performance and we’re super thrilled he gets to go to state. The rest of the team ran good, it was a tough race and I’m really proud of the whole team.”
Ainsworth swept the team and individual titles, winning the girls and boys' crowns. Ben Arens (16:04) and Rylee Rice (19:58.48) won the individual district titles, respectively.
The Neligh-Oakdale boys finished seventh with 129 points and Elkhorn Valley placed ninth with 171 points.
The Class D race is Friday, Oct. 19, at the Kearney Country Club. The girls race starts at noon and the boys race is at 1 p.m.
“I’m excited,” Eickholt concluded. “We got one more week and I would love more than anything to have to stay late and go to the award’s ceremony.”
With all the rain the area has had this week and more expected tonight, EPPJ has made the decision to move the parking for the football game Friday night.
Parking will be moved to the new parking lot on the east side of the gym and around the high school. No one will be allowed to park at the field, on the practice field or on the road leading to the field due to muddy conditions.
The school will be offering a shuttle from the parking lot up to the gates of the field.
The Neligh-Oakdale volleyball team ended its regular season on Thursday with a road trip to O'Neill to face a pair of teams they played less than a week later.
Facing Norfolk Catholic and O'Neill at O'Neill, the Warriors looked like a different team on the court as they matched both teams point for point for a much of the time, although Neligh-Oakdale came up short in both matches.
The Warriors (15-10) lost to Norfolk Catholic (9-14) 25-22, 25-21 and O'Neill (15-8) 25-13, 25-19. Stats are not available for either game.
Neligh-Oakdale will be off until the Niobrara Valley Tournament begins on Oct. 22. Brackets have not been released at this time.
For only the second time this season, the top-ranked volleyball team in Class D-2, Ewing, dropped a set, as Elkhorn Valley took the Lady Tigers to a third-set, but fell to Ewing, Tuesday at the Santee tri-match.
After falling in the first set, 25-17, the Lady Falcons won the second set, 25-23. Ewing bounced back and won the third set, 25-14, and the match.
Hannah Ollendick collected 10 kills and 23 digs to lead EV. Amber Miller tallied seven kills, 15 digs and 22 assists, Sierra Rystrom recorded seven kills and 22 digs and Olivia Nall added four kills and 17 digs.
The Lady Falcons cruised past Santee in two sets, 25-3 and 25-15.
Ollendick accounted for seven kills and nine digs, Nall accumulated eight aces and nine digs and Miller assisted on 14 kills.
Hannah Sheridan led the Lady Warriors with three blocks and a kill.
Santee lost to Ewing in straight-sets, 25-5 and 25-18.
Sheridan and DaWayna Wabasha each tallied two kills, Wabasha added an ace, a block and eight digs, while Sheridan had two blocks and 11 digs and Natalie Lopez recorded eight digs.
Santee (4-17) opens the Knox County tournament Monday against Bloomfield at 5:30 p.m. at Niobrara.
Elkhorn Valley (14-7) travels to O’Neill Monday at 5:30 p.m.
For the fourth time this season, the Clearwater/Orchard volleyball team swept Niobrara/Verdigre in straight sets.
"Two great wins for the girls," stated OC mentor Sierra Summers. "They looked as if they were having fun together and they played with more energy. (I am) looking forward to seeing how the rest of the season pans out."
The Lady Cyclones defeated N/V, 25-16 and 25-21.
OC started the day by rallying to defeat O’Neill St. Mary’s, 23-25, 25-16 and 25-16.
"(I was) proud of how the girls came out of the funk that they were playing in to get the win," Summers said.
The Lady Cougars also were victorious against the Lady Cardinals, 24-26, 25-18 and 25-12.
In the two combined matches, JoCee Johnston led the way with 14 kills, three aces, seven blocks and 22 digs. Katie Stearns recorded eight kills, five aces, three blocks and 17 digs, Julian Tuttle collected 42 assists, Taelyn Switzer tallied 11 kills and three aces, Avery Cheatum had seven aces and 20 digs and Maryssa Long added 15 digs.
Niobrara/Verdigre (2-18) travels to Elgin Thursday at 6:30 p.m. to face Elgin Public/Pope John.
Clearwater/Orchard (14-10) travels to Plainview Tuesday for a tri-match with O’Neill St. Mary’s and the Lady Pirates at 5 p.m.
The Nebraska School Activities Association recently announced the district hosts sites and a big change.
Neligh-Oakdale was selected to host the D-1 District in February.
“This will be the fourth or fifth district we’ll host and I have the people to do it and know what’s going on,” stated N-O wrestling coach Gary Davis. “We don’t have to worry about lodging, that the school or the kids have to pick up. We just purchased a brand new mat and some of the income from this tournament can offset that mat. The best thing is our kids get to sleep in their own bed. You’re not gone for two days, they get to go home, sleep in their own bed and get ready to go. Plus, we’ll have a bigger fan base.”
The big announcement from the NSAA also was the Class D District Entry ruling.
In Class D, each school is allowed to enter up to two wrestlers in each of the designated NFHS weight classes, with a maximum of 14 wrestlers total per team, at the state qualifying tournaments.
Any school who enters more than one wrestler in a weight class, must designate which of the two wrestlers would score team points for the purpose of determining the district and state team placing.
If two wrestlers from the same school compete against each other in the tournament, and the designated scoring wrestler wins the match, only advancement and placement points for that match would be awarded with no additional bonus points earned regardless of the match score.
“I like it and I actually voted for it,” said Clearwater/Orchard wrestling coach Dan Roeber. “I think it helps small programs out. I use the example that a kid was a three-time state champ and wrestled JV his freshman year. He was runner-up at 90 percent of the tournaments he went to because he wrestled behind a four-time state champ. I like it for Class D. You may only have six or seven kids and you can let them wrestle their natural weights.”
The “Wyoming Rule” is a big boost for team who cannot fill a full lineup and have extra wrestlers outside of their starters.
Both Davis and Roeber see the new ruling as a definite positive for the sport.
“A few years it would have really benefited our team,” Roeber said. “We’ve grown as a program and we can have a full 14 wrestlers fill out the 14 weight classes. I remember years though where we had 10 wrestlers, and we’re bumping them up or down a weight class they probably shouldn’t wrestle in. It’s going to promote wrestling. We need to get new fans and wrestlers outside of wrestling families. I feel this is another step in promoting ourselves.”
However, Davis sees the difficulty of qualifying for state increase.
“It’s going to make qualifying (for state) more difficult,” concluded Davis. “On one hand, just because a kid is JV (junior varsity) and he can’t get to varsity, but now he has the opportunity to qualify for state. I think it’s a good thing. It fills up the brackets and it’s even more of an accomplishment if you qualify because you’ve beaten the best out there. It will be interesting the first time out, but I think it will be a good thing.”
In addition, NSAA has moved up the State Duals Meet three weeks. It will now be held prior to districts, on February 2, 2019, in Kearney.
Every race has led to this point in the season. All the hard work will now be rewarded as the Neligh-Oakdale and Elkhorn Valley cross country teams compete at the District D-3 race Thursday at Norfolk’s Skyview Lake.
The path to Kearney for the state race is always difficult, but this year is even more so.
The boys race features 28 returning state qualifiers, five medalists and last year’s state runner-up, Ben Arens from Ainsworth.
There will be 24 state qualifiers, three medalists and the defending state champion, Rylee Rice of Ainsworth, in the girls race.
“It’s amazing how tough the district is,” said Elkhorn Valley coach Janet Rood. “I don’t know how we’re going to be able to compete, and I don’t understand how the district is drawn up. My team is young and it’s a little overwhelming to be in such a tough district, but we’re going to give it our best shot.”
For the Warriors, senior Cole Belitz and junior Emma Bixler have been stellar all season. Bixler and Belitz won the Niobrara Valley Conference titles last weekend and are poised for a solid showing Thursday.
“We always look to peak at the end of the season,” said N-O coach Rick Eickholt. “Cole and Emma have been a couple of Northeast Nebraska’s strongest runners all fall. I’m confident they will prove themselves worthy of that label on Thursday.”
The bulk of the Falcons’ young lineup will be competing in their first district race Thursday. Returning state qualifier Hunter Bennett and sophomore Damian Smith are going to be heavily relied upon to lead the young squad.
“The team is definitely leaning on Hunter and Damian to show them how to do this, and Hunter is feeling the pressure also because it is such a tough district,” Rood said. “They have a good head on their shoulders and they’ll do fine.”
N-O, on the other hand, has a very experienced team this season. Six seniors highlight the boys team, while the girls squad has two juniors who ran at last year’s district meet.
“Both (teams) are experienced veterans,” Eickholt said. “(We are) looking for leadership from all of our upperclassmen.”
This is the first time the Warriors have competed at Skyview. Shortly after the district was announced, the team went to Norfolk to practice at the future site of the district race.
“We practiced there once,” Eickholt recalled. “Hopefully, that gave a small amount of familiarity to the course. Personally, I think there were multiple other spots that would have been better suited to host the district meet for a variety of reasons, but that wasn’t up to me.”
For EV though, Skyview is a familiar course. The Falcons opened their season there for the Norfolk Catholic Invite.
“It is good that we’ve run the course before, but this is actually our least favorite course to run at,” Rood added. “The boys are disappointed because we are running there, but I think it can go either way. Sometimes it’s nice, but it can also get into your head too.”
With the tough competition, a solid showing at the district meet could give runners a momentum boost going into the state meet or into the offseason.
“We are looking at who we are competing against,” Rood concluded. “I have tried to convey to the younger guys that they are competing against guys their own grade level. Next year, the top runners will be moving on and every year we will get into a better place. We’re focusing on that. This year maybe we don’t have a big hope, but then next year when everyone is improved and we have more experience, we will do better.”
Neligh-Oakdale split its regular games last week with Creighton and Ewing before going winless at a tough Wisner-Pilger Tournament on Saturday.
The Warriors picked up a four-set win over Creighton on Tuesday night as the Warriors celebrated both a Pink Out and parents night.
“We had girls all over the court. I can’t say enough about their fight,” said coach Hannah Hoefer. “We were down a couple of times, and they weren’t getting frantic. They regained focus and never lacked in hustle.”
The Warriors utilized a balanced attack with its hitters. Haley Kerkman put down a 13 kills while both Shelby Pitzer and Amanda Dietz powered another 12 kills each. Trinity Kurpgeweit added another seen kills on the night. Kurpgeweit and Paige Furstenau picked up 14 digs in the win. Running their 6-2 offense, Kerkman put up 25 set assists and Claire Whitesel had 19.
Neligh-Oakdale put up a fight against top-rated Ewing in the first set, but once the Tigers started hitting their kill shots inside the line, undefeated Ewing was unstoppable as they outscored Neligh-Oakdale 61-18 from there on. Kerkman led the Warriors with seven kills, four set assists and three digs while Claire Whitesel put up seven assists and had four digs.
The Warriors then stumbled at Wisner-Pilger, falling to O’Neill, Norfolk Catholic and then Wynot in the fifth-place game. Dietz had nine kills, and Shelby Pitzer added eight. Snodgrass picked up 49 digs in the tournament.
“The girls are very up for these challenges,” Hoefer said. “In the past, the girls may not have wanted big games, but they want to play and see where we compare to these solid teams.”
Creighton 23 23 25 21
Neligh-Oakdale 25 25 22 25
Neligh-Oakdale: Paige Furstenau 1k, 14d, 1sa; Trinity Kurpgeweit 7k, 3a, 14d; Brooke Frey 2k, 1b, 2d; Amanda Dietz 12k, 2d; Shelby PItzer 12k, 6d; Haley Kerkman 13k, 1a, 1b, 10d, 25sa, Aubrie Klabenes 2k, 2d; Claire Whitesel 1a, 3d, 19sa; Kristen Snodgrass 1k, 3a.
Neligh-Oakdale 15 11 7
Ewing 25 25 25
Paige Furstenau 1a, 3d; Trinity Kurpgeweit 2k, 1a, 5d; Brooke Frey 1k, 1d; Amanda Dietz 2k; Shelby Pitzer 1d; Haley Kerkman 7k, 1a, 3d, 4sa; Aubrie Klabenes 1k, Claire Whitesel 4d, 7sa; Kristen Snodgrass 6d, 1sa.
O’Neill 25 25
Neligh-Oakdale 7 18
Paige Furstenau 7d; Trinity Kurpgeweit 3k, 1d; Amanda Dietz 3k, 1sa; Shelby Pitzer 2k, 1d; Haley Kerkman 7d, 6sa; Aubrie Klabenes 1d; Claire Whitesel 7d, 1sa; Aleesha Bergman 1d; Kristen Snodgrass 11d.
Neligh-Oakdale 13 12
Norfolk Catholic 25 25
Paige Furstenau 4d; Trinity Kurpgeweit 3d; Brooke Frey 1d; Shelby Pitzer 1k, 2d; Haley Kerkman 2k, 1a, 2d; Aubrie Klabenes 2d; Claire Whitesel 1a, 1d, 3sa; Kristen Snodgrass 8d.
Neligh-Oakdale 25 16 18
Wynot 23 25 25
Paige Furstenau 5d; Trinity Kurpgeweit 3k, 1a, 7d; Brooke Frey 1a, 2d; Amanda Dietz 6k, 3d; Shelby Pitzer 5k, 3d; Haley Kerkman 4k, 1a, 5d; Aubrie Klabenes 1b, 1d; Claire Whitesel 1k, 1a, 6d; Josey Booth 1d; Aleesha Bergman 1k, 2d; Kristen Snodgrass 18d.
A sluggish night offensively doomed the Elgin Public/Pope John football team in its 60-0 loss to St. Francis Friday.
The Flyers jumped out to a 40-0 lead in the opening quarter and cruised from there.
EPPJ was held to 18 yards of total offense in the loss. Kyle Schumacher ran for 12 yards and Cory Romej added 11 yards on the ground.
Schumacher led the defense with 20 tackles. Romej tallied 16 tackles, Austin Bauer recorded 12 tackles, Layne Bullock had 11 tackles and Adam Dreger accounted for 10 tackles for the Wolfpack.
Elgin Public/Pope John (1-5) hopes to break its five-game losing skid Friday against Osmond at 7 p.m.
Elgin Public/Pope John 0 0 0 0 - 0
St. Francis 40 14 6 0 - 60
Elgin Public/Pope John - Passing: Kyle Schumacher 1-4-0 (-5) yards. Norman Grothe 0-1-0 0 yards.
Rushing: Kyle Schumacher 15-12. Corey Romej 8-11.
Receiving: Corey Romej 1-(-5).
Before Thursday's final match during the Clearwater/Orchard quad match, the Clearwater and Orchard High Schools honored their volleyball parents.
Parents were asked to stand and wave and the senior parents came out with their daughters before the Lady Cyclones match with Elgin Public/Pope John.
Check out our photo gallery of all the senior families.
The Elkhorn Valley football proved they are not the same Falcons of recent past as it took a last minute touchdown for Howells-Dodge to defeat EV, 20-16.
It was a defensive struggle throughout the game as both teams turned the ball over three times each, as the Jaguars led 6-0 going into the final stanza.
The Falcons claimed the lead on a two-yard TD run by Braedyn Ollendick and a two-point conversion pass from Ollendick to Brock Schaecher.
H-D retook the lead on Darrin Pokorny's 27-yard touchdown run.
With under six minutes remaining, EV senior Josh McFarland broke free for a 13-yard score and Ollendick's two-point conversion gave the Falcons a 16-14 lead.
However, the Jaguars scored with 1:46 remaining in the game when Pokorny found Charlie Dvorak for a 39-yard TD pass. Trevor Jedlicka ran in the two-point try to seal the win for the Jags.
McFarland rushed for 86 yards and a score. Ollendick ran for 22 yards and a TD and passed for 154 yards. Adam Miller caught four passes for 91 yards.
Damien Knight led the defense with 17 tackles and a fumble recovery.
Elkhorn Valley (2-4) hosts county rival Neligh-Oakdale Friday at 2 p.m.
Howells-Dodge 0 6 0 14 - 20
Elkhorn Valley 0 0 0 16 - 16
Howells-Dodge - Passing: Darrin Pokorny 3-5-0 61 yards.
Rushing: Darrin Pokorny 28-168. Charlie Dvorak 11-53. Trevor Jedlicka 8-35. Levi Belina 7-31. Gaute Gunleiksrud 2-5.
Receiving: Charlie Dvorak 2-50. R.J. Bayer 1-11
Elkhorn Valley - Passing: Braedyn Ollendick 13-24-2 154 yards..
Rushing: Josh McFarland 19-86. Braedyn Ollendick 16-22. Brock Schaecher 3-18..
Receiving: Adam Miller 4-19. Brock Schaecher 4-28. Josh McFarland 2-21. Carter Rautenberg 3-14.
Clearwater/Orchard’s physical play propelled the OC football squad past Twin Loup, 38-7, Friday at Orchard in the Cyclones’ homecoming game.
“I thought we played well and we were physical all night long, on defense and offense,” stated OC mentor Jeff Shabram. “We have to clean up those penalties and that deters us a little bit when you’re behind the sticks.”
The Cyclones struck first with a Jacob Long touchdown run to start the scoring.
On OC's next possession, Chris Kester broke free for a 48-yard TD run.
Kester then found Blake Hoke for a 29-yard TD pass, extending the black and green's advantage to 22-0.
“The linemen held up well up the middle and Jacob (Long) made a good block down the field to help spring me free,” Kester recalled on his touchdown run. “The pass blocking was good enough for Blake (Hoke) to get down the field and make a good catch.”
The Cyclone defense had a 'bend don't break' mentally in the first half.
The Wolves had several promising drive into OC territory, but were turned away each time, including coughing up the pigskin twice.
“We hit hard defense and held them out of the end zone for most of the game,” Kester said. “They were getting down the field, but they were fumbling because we were hitting them so hard.”
Eli Macke opened the second half with a 53-yard touchdown run, to extend the lead to 30.
On TL’s ensuing possession, a snap went over the Wolves punter’s head and out of the back of the end zone for a safety.
OC drove down the field and ended its drive with a Ryan Wilhelm one-yard TD run.
In the fourth, Twin Loup finally cracked the scoreboard on a Quade Young four-yard score.
The Cyclones used a potent ground attack to carry OC to its fourth-straight win. The black and green ran 341 yards led by Macke’s 112 yards and one touchdown. Long accumulated 114 yards and a score and Kester recorded 97 yards on ground and 78 yards through the air, to go along with a rushing and passing touchdown.
“It was a cold night and the wind was blowing at the beginning so it was nice to be able to pound the ball,” Shabram said.”To have as many weapons as we have is huge. Teams can’t key in on one guy. We want to be as versatile as possible and we did a nice job of that.”
On defense, OC forced two turnovers and held the Wolves to 174 yards of total offense.
“The defense played well and when we did give up some yards, they bowed their necks and we were able to get a turnover or a big stop on fourth down,” Shabram added. “The defense played well.”
Clearwater/Orchard (5-1) travels to O’Neill to face St. Mary’s Thursday at 7 p.m.
“The season is flying by and we have two more district games left,” Shabram concluded. “It’s been quite a few years since we’ve had a district championship, either Clearwater, Orchard or combined. You don’t want to look too far ahead and you want to take it a week at a time, but it’s a motivating factor for these guys right now.”
Twin Loup 0 0 0 7 - 7
Clearwater/Orchard 8 14 16 0 - 38
Twin Loup - Passing: Dylan Osborn 4-7-0 11 yards. Quade Young 2-2-0 7 yards.
Rushing: Quade Young 21-85. Cooper Coons 11-40. Dylan Osborn 1-20. Lathyn Collins 3-11. Jacob Lewellyn 1-2. Kade Bottorf 1-(-2).
Receiving: Bryce Lamb 2-24. Cooper Coons 3-5. Dylan Osborn 1-(-11).
Clearwater/Orchard - Passing: Chris Kester 4-7-0 78 yards. Austin Pokorny 1-1-0 8 yards. Blake Hoke 0-1-0 0 yards.
Rushing: Eli Macke 11-112. Chris Kester 13-97. Jacob Long 8-68. Tyler Bellar 6-23. Austin Pokorny 4-15. Zach King 1-3. Houston Marino 2-9. Ryan Wilhelm 1-1.
Receiving: Jacob Long 2-46. Blake Hoke 1-29. Donaven Nolze 1-8. Clay Thiele 1-3.
Two races, two champions.
Neligh-Oakdale was the second school in Niobrara Valley Conference history to ever sweep the individual titles when Emma Bixler and Cole Belitz both won their races at Bassett on Friday afternoon. In addition, two others picked up medals, boosting the Warriors to four total All-Conference honors.
Bixler started off the Warriors' winning ways in the girls race, finishing first with a time of 21:12, an impressive 39 seconds faster than the second place runner. Sister and teammate, Hailey Bixler, earned 14th in a time of 26:38 to earn a conference medal as well. Sydney Olson finished 19th in 30:04.
Belitz kept the championship streak alive, winning the boys race in 17:54. He topped the field of 52 NVC runners. Neligh-Oakdale's Griffin Claussen earned 10th place in a time of 19:21 to pick up the final conference medal for the Warriors. Rounding out the team were Christian Carothers in 23rd (21:01), Ashton Higgins 25th (21:07), Thomas Johnson 30th (21:44), Cameron Wilkinson 31st (21:46), Jose Luna 33rd (22:06), Isaias Juarez 35th (22:14), Logan McConnell 44th (23:26) and Parker Tinsley 52nd (31:37).
"Emma and Cole competed very well, but I really didn't expect anything different out of them, they have been at the top of their game all year long," Coach Rick Eickholt said. "Hopefully, we are going to continue that into the next two weeks. We did get other individuals that gained all-conference honors. We got Griffin who made top 10 for the boys and Hailey made top 15 for the girls, so we had four All-Conference runners. I really, really was hoping that we might be able to bump up a few positions with a few of our boys, but it didn't happen today. I think we ran well, the other competitors just ran a little bit better."
Neligh-Oakdale will travel to Norfolk for districts next Thursday. The girls race is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. at Skyview Lake.
It was a complete game for the Neligh-Oakdale football team in its 64-6 triumph over Madison Friday at Warrior Field.
"This week our focus was on us and make sure we executed better form top to bottom," stated N-O coach Ron Beacom. "We said it didn't matter who was on the field, they have all had enough reps now and they are all suppose to do what we've been teaching them to do. It didn't matter what kid was out there (today), we all did pretty well. We still had a mistake or two, but for the most part, they all played hard and they did what we were trying to get them to do."
It was all Warriors to start the contest, scoring on their first three drives.
"We had a good week of practice and that usually dictates how the game will go," spoke N-O senior Jayden Arehart. "We wanted to come out here, score points early and never look back."
It took less than a minute for N-O to crack the scoreboard as Andrew Herley ran in the opening touchdown from 28 yards out.
On their next possession, Hunter Charf found Garret Belitz for a 12-yard score and then connected on a 47-yard TD pass to Arehart, giving N-O a 20-0 advantage.
Arehart found the end zone two more times, on an 18- yard pass and a 73-yard pass.
Talon Krebs scored the Warriors' final touchdown of the half on a three-year TD reception from Brock Kester, giving the maroon and white a 42-0 lead at half.
"Anytime you get off to a good start it's helpful, especially for your confidence," Beacom said. "We had to create our own excitement, take care of the football game and see where it goes from there. That's what happened. We got off to a good start. They (Madison) are a struggling team right now and when we came out and played as hard as we did, it probably took a little bit out of them and made things easier."
Along with its explosive offense, the N-O defense was dominant in the first half by forcing three first-half turnovers.
"We were really locked in and we wanted the shutout," Arehart said. "We wanted to get the win really bad. We locked in, did our job and that's what good defenses do."
Conor Dempsey took over for the Warriors in the second half, rushing for more than 100 yards and three scores in the final 24 minutes of play.
The Dragons broke the goose egg in the scoring column with under seven minutes to go when Brayen Tapia scored a 21-yard touchdown.
N-O was in complete control throughout the game, outgaining Madison 455-235 and forced four turnovers.
"Anytime you hold a team to six points in eight-man, you're doing something well," Beacom noted. "I thought we tackled pretty well and all kids ran to the football and played well in space. Last week we played pretty well defensively in the second half, so it's a matter of continuing to play hard and get kids running to the ball."
Charf recorded more than 200 yards of total offense and passed for four scores. Arehart caught three passes for 138 yards and three TDs and Dempsey rushed for more than 110 yards and three touchdowns.
Neligh-Oakdale (3-3) travels county rival Elkhorn Valley Friday at 2 p.m.
"We have to focus because they have a nice club," Beacom concluded. "They have some nice skill kids. Their quarterback is a good player and athlete, their running back is an exceptional player and they have a wide out, or two, that's doing pretty good. They do a lot that we do and make teams play them in space. Defensively, we're going to have to play well space, everyone has to use good technique and leverage and make plays. Hopefully we can do what we've done the last two weeks because in order for us to be a good football team and play an extended season, we need this one. It's important we go play hard."
Hunter Bennett ran his way to 3rd place medal at the Niobrara Valley Conference Cross Country Meet on Friday.
Bennett crossed the finish line in 18:20 to lead the Falcons and secure All-Conference honors. The top-15 runners earned medals and All-Conference out of the field of 52 boys.
Rounding out the Elkhorn Valley team were Walter Furstenau 19th (20:40), Colton Rystrom 20th (20:41), Damian Smith 21st (20:50), Reed Bennett 22nd (20:57), Conner Klein 43rd (23:24) and Dylan Wright 51st (24:50).
"Hunter placed right where we thought he would," Coach Janet Rood said. "I think the cold affected us, we all ran a little slower, but I think our times were good."
Three junior high runners earned medals in the conference meet. Joslynn Larson placed 10th in the girls division and in the boys race, Tristian Smith was 5th and Dawson Hansen was 8th.
"All my junior high girls placed in the top 15, so I was really proud of them," Rood said. "The boys both placed and ran really well today. They both got PRs."
The Falcon varsity runners will be back in action next Thursday when they travel to Norfolk for districts.
Time and time again, small town communities come together like a family during tragic times. That belief was demonstrated this past summer in Orchard and Clearwater after a local farmer died in a grain bin accident.
Clearwater native, Robert Pokorny, passed away in July. His youngest son, Austin, was just a month away from beginning his senior year of high school at Clearwater when the accident claimed his dad’s life.
Both the Clearwater and Orchard communities showed their support for the Pokorny family anyway they could.
“Growing up in a small town, you really feel the support when a bad thing happens,” Austin said. “It affects everyone, not just my family, and you could feel everyone else was hurting too. I felt the support coming to my family and it was awesome.”
His teammates from the Clearwater/Orchard football team were immediately by his side during his time of grief.
“My team has been there all the time,” Austin said. “The captains were in the hospital with me the day of the accident. I had Snapchats and texts coming from my team all day long, always checking on me. They always have my back and I could feel it.”
As the football season approached, OC head football coach, Jeff Shabram, came up with an idea to honor Austin’s father.
“You see it with other teams a lot of times, especially on TV, with memorial decals for a player that maybe in the offseason or during the season, or a player’s family member too,” Shabram said. “After the service back in July when Robert died, I thought this would be a perfect tribute for the family. I thought it was appropriate and I think Austin is appreciative of it.”
Before the Cyclones’ soap scrimmage, Shabram held up a helmet in front of the team and told them what the decal on the back of their helmets stood for.
Robert’s initials, RP, were placed on a decal sticker on the back of each football player’s helmet to honor the Clearwater resident. It was a shock to Austin to see the decal.
“It was a surprise and I didn’t know about it (the decal) until that day,” the senior quarterback recalled. “I was there when coach Shabram brought me the box (of decals) and told me to look in there. I saw them and it was really cool. It completely took me by surprise.”
The football team has not been the only group who has shown their support to the Pokorny family.
“The whole week (of Robert’s passing), the communities were sending us food and all kinds of support,” Austin added. “You could feel the prayers, and what not, coming through. It really opened our eyes to how much support you receive through everything.”
Despite being about 15 minutes apart, the Clearwater and Orchard communities united as one to be there for the Pokorny family.
“It has been a strong support,” Shabram said. “I know the Clearwater community was devastated and people in Orchard were grief stricken too. It is a horrible ordeal when something like this happens, and you never want something like this to happen to any community. But when it does, you just lean on friends, family and faith in God. You have to keep living life one day at a time.”
The Cyclones, who are 4-1, look poised for a deep playoff run thanks to its large senior class. Shabram believes this past summer’s tragedy showed how close all 12 seniors are and how much they care for one another.
“Our senior boys are really close to begin with,” Shabram said. “They are all good friends and I think they got closer back in July through this whole ordeal. They hang out together and lean on each other and that’s what Austin needs. He’s in a good place. Something like this has given Austin, and even his family, an extended group of friends to lean on.”
Along with the decal of his father’s initials, Austin is honoring his late father by not putting any other additional stickers or decals on his helmet, including OC’s touchdown sticker that each player gets when they score a touchdown. However, Austin knows he is not alone in honoring his father.
“It felt really awesome knowing I had the whole team at my back,” Austin said. “I knew they were already, but when I saw the decals I could feel it.”
It was an action packed night of volleyball at Clearwater as Chambers/Wheeler Central, Wausa, Clearwater/Orchard and Elgin Public/Pope John all battled on the hardwood Thursday.
EPPJ and CWC both went a perfect 2-0 on the evening, while OC and Wausa both went 0-2.
"It felt really good to go 2-0 tonight," stated EPPJ senior Kaylee Martinsen. "We finally had a whole bunch of momentum. We knew we needed to get it done and come out on top because NVC (Niobrara Valley Conference) and districts are coming up and we really want to push that goal to go to state."
CWC opened the evening with a two-set with over the host Lady Cyclones.
After falling behind, 3-2, the Lady Renegade used a 5-0 run to take a two-point lead
OC scored 13 of the next 19 points to reclaim the lead, but another 5-0 run by the Lady Renegades put CWC ahead for good.
Morgan Ramsey ended the set with three-straight kills to secure the 25-20 set win.
Tied at seven in set two, the Lady Renegades outscored OC, 18-7, to win the set, 25-14, and the match.
"(It was a) good game for the girls," said OC mentor Sierra Summers. "They worked hard to stick with CWC and played well."
JoCee Johnston led the way with five kills, seven blocks and an ace. Katie Stearns tallied three kills and eight digs, Avery Cheatum collected four blocks and six digs and Julian Tuttle recorded 11 assists.
In the second match of the day, CWC cruised to a two-set win over Wausa.
Leading 9-8 in the first set, the Lady Renegades scored 16 of the final 17 points to pull away for a 25-9 triumph. Taylor Jean Parker had four aces during a 12-0 run for CWC.
A hot start by the orange and black, propelled CWC to a 25-13 set win to take the match.
The Lady Renegades started the set with a 7-2 run and kept the Lady Vikings at bay throughout the match with timely kills.
Four different players recorded a kill for the Lady Vikings. Kaitlyn Kumm, Esther Nelson, Ainsley Nelson and Paige Nissen each tallied a kill for the purple and gold. Jaide Kaiser had an ace and a block and Elizabeth Johnson added a block.
It took three sets to determine a winner in the EPPJ-Wausa match, but when the dust had settled, it was the Lady Wolfpack who stood victorious.
The Lady Vikings won the first set, 25-20 thanks to a late run.
Trailing 11-9, Wausa scored 16 of the final 25 points to win the set.
EPPJ did just enough to force a decisive third set, winning 25-22 in set two.
After Wausa had cut the deficit to 15-14, thanks to a 4-0 run, the Lady Wolfpack scored eight of the next ten points.
Another Lady Viking rally was not enough as EPPJ held on.
The red and black overcame a slow start to win the set, 26-24, and the match.
"We've been preaching mental toughness all season long," noted EPPJ coach Tina Thiele-Blecher. "You can never give up and hopefully they keep pushing through. It could have gone either way and I saw a couple of girls step up and they wanted the ball. They weren't scared to have the ball set to them or served to them. That's huge for us now as a young group."
Five errors by EPPJ put the Lady Wolfpack in a 5-1 hole. EPPJ took its first lead at 23-22 thanks to a Kirsten Krebs kill.
Following a kill and ace by Brooke Kumm, Wausa had match-point, but a Lexi Bode and Martinsen kill, along with a Lady Viking attack error, completed the comeback for the Lady Wolfpack.
"Coach (Thiele-Blecher) has really been talking about mental toughness this whole week and getting into our heads that we need to be mentally tough and work to the end," Martinsen noted. "We need to push to 25 because each set goes to 25 and we did our best and came out with a win."
Nissen recorded 10 kills to lead Wausa, to go along with her seven blocks and 10 digs. Brooke Kumm had three kills, three blocks, 10 digs and an ace, Kaiser added two aces, 12 digs and 20 assists and Ruth Johnson accounted for 14 digs.
Martinsen led the Lady Wolfpack with 11 kills. Kayce Kallhoff tallied five kills and Lexi Bode added four kills.
In the final match of the evening, EPPJ held off its county rivals in two sets.
Leading 11-8, the Lady Wolfpack surged past OC thanks to three Martinsen aces and two kills during a 10-2 run to take the first set, 25-13.
The Lady Cyclones came out swinging in the second set taking two separate four-point leads in the set, but EPPJ once again rallied and a Haley Zegers' kill sealed a 25-22 set win and a 2-0 night for the Lady Wolfpack, who remain unbeaten against Antelope County opponents.
"It's fun," Martinsen commented. "I love playing against our county teams. We're all super close and it's always a fun time."
The county clash was a sloppy contest between the two squads, especially in the first set. Both teams combined for eight service errors in the first set. OC committed 35 errors and EPPJ had 19 errors in the match.
"We have to take care of our ball," Thiele-Blecher said. "Every time we make an error, we give the other team a point. Not only dies it kill momentum, but we have to play good ball. I know the girls aren't scared, but at the same time we have to play smart."
Kallhoff led the Lady Wolfpack with six kills. Krebs and Zegers each added three kills, Martinsen tallied three aces, Wemhoff recorded two aces and 12 assists and Anna Heilhecker had 13 digs.
Johnston accounted for seven kills and two aces, Cheatum accumulated three kills and 13 digs, Taelyn Switzer pitched in three aces and Tuttle recorded seven digs and 12 assists.
Wausa (4-11) travels to Osmond Tuesday.
Clearwater/Orchard (12-10) looks to get back on track Tuesday in its home tri-match against Niobrara/Verdigre and St. Mary's at 5 p.m.
"(We had) great energy and great focus," Summers noted. "We just couldn't come away with the win. (I am) proud of how the girls handle themselves at all times in the game. We are still continuing to battle, compete and make ourselves better as a team."
Elgin Public/Pope John (13-9) looks to go a perfect 4-0 against Antelope County foes in Tuesday's home tri-match with Neligh-Oakdale and Riverside at 5 p.m.
"Let's hope it gives us a lot of momentum going into next week and the end of the season," Thiele-Blecher concluded on picking up two wins Thursday. "It's always great to get two wins (in a day) towards the end of the season. To push through that first game and get the win, even though it wasn't the prettiest win, was huge for us."
News That Matters To Antelope County - Your News. Your Way. Every Day!
© Pitzer Digital, LLC