Stanton wins its own invitational, defeats Cedar Catholic 2-1
STANTON - At about the same time Nebraska quarterback Andrew Bunch was throwing a game-ending interception in Lincoln, the area’s top two Class C volleyball teams were taking the court in Stanton for the championship match of the Stanton invitational.
Perhaps some disappointed football fans would have found a lot more to cheer about in Stanton as the two heavyweights - No. 1 Stanton and No.2 Hartington Cedar Catholic - slugged it out with intensity that reminded one of a heavyweight championship fight.
This match was scheduled for three rounds and after the first two, the sides were even at one apiece, with both having scored 49 points.
“We’re pretty equal and I think we both compete to the end,” Stanton coach Tracy Kuester said. “We play defense very well and it gets down to that mental state of ‘Am I going to get this; am I going to play fearless or am I going to play scared?’”
The match featured great defense on both sides in terms of both passing and blocking. The four all-state candidates on the floor: Stanton’s Bree Burtwistle and Jessie Brandl and Cedar Catholic’s Maddie Wieseler and Jada Cattau all made great plays and all had kill attempts blocked back onto their sides of the net.
A Cattau kill cut Stanton’s first-set lead to 24-21. Cedar fought off two more set points when Brianna Miller delivered a service ace and Brandl’s kill attempt from the back row sailed long.
It appeared the Trojans had tied the score at 24 when Liz Christensen’s kill attempt landed wide, but floor the official ruled that the ball had been tipped by a Cedar player which gave the Mustangs the first set win 25-23.
“Some things didn’t go our way,” Cedar Catholic coach Denae Buss said. “But we definitely had our fair share of errors to aid in our loss.”
The second set featured great drama as the two teams were tied at 19, 20, 21, 22 and 23. Brandl then dialed up one of her patented kills from the back row to tie it at 24.
Wieseler answered with a kill of her own then her teammate Kenlee Goeden dinked the ball at an open space in the Stanton defense to end the set at 26-24.
“We have to work on our defense,” Kuester said. “We had a lot of balls that fell to the ground that maybe shouldn’t have fell to the ground that nobody went for.”
Stanton took control of the third set early with kills by Christensen and Reba Waskowiak and sevice aces from Burtwistle and Brandl.
The Mustangs led 17-10, but Cedar appeared to have gained some momentum as libero Megan Heimes made two outstanding digs on a pair of Burtwistle kill attempts to keep alive a point the Trojans eventually won. Several points later, a Miller kill cut Stanton’s lead to 18-16.
The Mustangs then showed championship form by reeling off the next four points as kills off the block by Christensen and Waskowiak sandwiched a Jaiden Hartl service ace.
Cedar Catholic fought off a match point when Goeden and Cattau teamed up for a block to make it 24-20.
The Trojans appeared to have survived another match point when a Stanton kill attempt sailed long. The referee initially awarded the point to Cedar, but in a déjà vu moment, the line judge ruled the ball had been tipped and the referee reversed the call to give the Mustangs the set and match 25-20.
Buss had no complaints. “We made our own errors that led up to that point. We could have not been down by six.”
“The matches were close so I think it came down to who was not going to make that mental error right at the end,” Kuester said. “Sometimes it falls on our court and sometimes it doesn’t and tonight it fell.”
Earlier in the day, Stanton had defeated Arlington and Clarkson/Leigh, while Cedar Catholic had downed Ponca and Battle Creek.
The tournament also included Genoa Twin River and West Point-Beemer. Of the eight teams, only Arlington came into the invite with a losing record.
“We had some great teams here today, which gave everybody an overall view of where everything’s going to fall out a little bit down the line.” Kuester said. “We have West Point-Beemer again and Twin River when we go to conference. Battle Creek and Clarkson/Leigh are in our subdistrict so it was nice to see them again on the court and see what we need to adjust.”
Stanton improved to 13-1 and visits Pender on Tuesday for a triangular with Wisner-Pilger and the host Pendragons. Cedar Catholic fell to 15-3 and visits Pierce Tuesday.
Stanton defeats Hartington Cedar Catholic
25-23, 24-26, 25-20