SCC 2nd at home invite
Scotus came one set and just a few points short of taking home its own invitational tournament on Saturday.
The Shamrocks lost the final match of the day to Lincoln Journal Star No. 6 Wahoo Bishop Neumann 25-21, 4-25 and 25-27 to finish the day as runners-up and 2-1 overall.
Despite coming one match short, and some bumps in the road during that match, coach Janet Tooley said she felt the overall performance for the day was head and shoulders above the one Scotus gave earlier in the week in a three-set sweep at No. 5 Omaha Concordia.
“I feel like we really, really played well coming off Concordia on Tuesday night. We had a couple rough practices but some good moments as well,” she said. “These girls have a lot of heart. They want to be good. To see the difference in how we played earlier in the week is just a huge step in the right direction.”
Scotus opened the season on Aug. 28 at Concordia two matches behind the pace of the Mustangs. Due to some opponents dropping off the early schedule, Concordia had already seen No. 2 Grand Island Central Catholic and No. 3 Lincoln Lutheran while the Shamrocks were headed to Omaha for their first game of the year.
Tooley said the difference was obvious. Her team passed poorly and showed the type of rust typical of a season-opener.
With three days to prepare for three weekend matches, Scotus went back to work. It may not have been a perfect start to finish, but the work put in paid off in a two-set sweep of Lakeview (25-21, 25-16) and three-set victory over Hartington Cedar Catholic (25-22, 18-25, 25-21).
Another first-set win over Neumann put Scotus on the brink of the tournament title before a poor second set.
Down 21-20 in the opener after a Neumann ace, a Shamrock sideout then three straight points put it away. The second set was more like the team seen at Concordia, Tooley said.
The deciding set was a back-and-forth battle with Scotus down 17-15 then tied at 18-18, 19-19, 20-20, 21-21 and 22-22. A shot just inches out of bounds and a Neumann kill just between the Shamrock block accounted for the Cavaliers’ championship points.
“These kids have shown a lot of resilience. We’ve had a lot of up and downs. We are still definitively a developing team with a lot of potential,” Tooley said. “To show the heart that we had in a point-for-point third set was encouraging.”
So too was the play of setter Chloe Odbert. Tooley said she struggled with two-shot setter dump decisions at Concordia then found the exact right times to pick her spots on Saturday.
That, plus continued distribution to all of the Shamrocks’ weapons, made the junior stand out in all three matches.
And top to bottom, everyone was better.
“Having an even attack is kind of our goal. Against Concordia, though we didn’t play well, we spread the attack out pretty even. That was the situation again this weekend,” Tooley said.
Her compliments include outside hitters Emily Stutzman and Courtney Kosch putting away the opportunities they had while keeping the ball in play in other situations.
Tooley said she felt Baily Lehr began to find her swing and is continuing to get better.
Julia Salerno and Amber Buhman, new to varsity, showed improved blocking and more confidence.
That will have to continue for a stretch that includes Wayne at home on Tuesday night, the Omaha Bryan Tournament this weekend against several teams Tooley admitted Scotus knows little about, David City Aquinas on Sept. 11 and No. 2 GICC on Sept. 13.
“It really was a team effort. That’s what it’s going to be this year if we’re going to be good,” Tooley said. “These girls understand that, and they’re buying into that.”
Nate Tenopir is the sports editor for The Columbus Telegram. You can reach him at email@example.com