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’Rocks fall just short of title at Columbus Classic

October 3, 2018

Scotus Central Catholic volleyball walked away from the 10th annual Columbus Classic proud of its effort, if not frustrated by the results.

The Shamrocks made a run to the title match against No. 4 Hastings with wins over Beatrice and Kearney Catholic but lost a close three-set decision to the Tigers in an extended final set that took 29 points before a winner emerged.

Scotus finished the weekend 12-6 ahead of a first-round Centennial Conference Tournament matchup on Thursday at No. 5 Grand Island Central Catholic.

“It is a step up. We gave ourselves some chances there. We battled back, which is something we weren’t doing early in the season,” coach Janet Tooley said of the title match. “I’m pleased that the girls are not satisfied with taking the No. 4 B team point-for-point there at the end. We’re at the point now where we want to win those things. But they know it was our unforced errors. We’ve done a much better job of limiting those this last week against Lakeview and in the first two matches. Now we just have to do that against real quality teams.”

Scotus swept Lakeview on Thursday to snap a three-game skid then defeated Blair 25-7, 25-19 to open Saturday and won a 25-21, 25-18 contest over Kearney Catholic in the middle match.

In the championship, the two teams were tied 16-16 in the first set when the Shamrocks answered two Tiger kills with an Amber Buhman block and kill and Emily Stutzman kill to take a brief lead.

Hastings scored the next six straight thanks to two Scotus hitting errors, a call for being in the net and three aces.

Scotus took an early 5-2 lead in Set 2 behind three Baily Lehr kills, a Lehr block and a Stutzman ace and held the lead until back-to-back Hastings kills late in the set tied the score 23-23. Lehr finished it off with two straight kills to force a third set.

The third set was tied 10-10, Hastings led 16-13 and 19-17 but two passing errors, a Lauren Ostdiek aced and Stutzman kill gave Scotus a 21-19 lead.

The Shamrocks had a chance to end it at 24-23, 25-24, 26-25 and 27-26 but a serving error, hitting error and two Tiger kills saved each match point. A hitting error and an ace on the final serve denied Scotus the win.

Though late mistakes cost Scotus the win, and Tooley felt her team chipped too much over the block instead of tipping, she was pleased with the balanced nature of the attack. The Shamrocks have mostly been dependent on Lehr and Stutzman to lead the charge with some moments from Courtney Kosch, but Saturday it was that trio plus Buhman and Julia Salerno having their moments at the net.

Most importantly, that multiple attack has become much more consistent of the past week.

“We’ve become more versatile. Now, what each of those attackers has to do is hit multiple shots,” Tooley said. “In other words, I don’t want our outsides getting stuck at the pin calling for the same shot each time. We need to throw some off-speed in there.”

Saturday was the fourth match this season for Scotus against a ranked opponent. All four have ended with a loss though Saturday was the second time the Shamrocks have pushed a ranked foe to a deciding set.

They’ll have another chance to pick up a win over a ranked opponent on Thursday.

“It was a good, productive day. Sure, you want to win a championship. We’re still disappointed in that slipping away, but we’re still looking to be a second half of the season team,” Tooley said. “We continued to make a step towards that today being in the finals.”

Nate Tenopir is the sports editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at sports@columbustelegram.com

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