CHS Volleyball: Skyhawks end Discoverer season
After being outplayed by one of the top teams in Class B, Columbus High volleyball fought back and nearly forced a fourth set on Saturday in Omaha, but saw its season come to an abrupt end in a 25-15, 25-13, 26-24 loss to Skutt Catholic.
The Skyhawks ended the Discoverers 2018 season with a final mark of 15-17 and denied CHS the state tournament one win short of ending what is now a 14-year drought.
Skutt, meanwhile, moves on to its sixth straight state tournament looking for its fourth consecutive state championship. The Skyhawks open their title defense Thursday as the No. 2 seed and face Elkhorn.
“I think we gave them our best shot. Set two, we just had one rotation we could not get out of that serve receive, but other than that, the girls played really well,” coach Jeri Otten said.
“We were essentially the team we saw at the conference tournament, if not a little better. We were out there swinging hard and had to have a pretty good efficiency hitting as a team.”
Otten and the Discoverers knew the type of challenge they were in for after sweeping through the sub-district round and being assigned the No. 15 seed for Saturday.
Skutt came into the match ranked No. 3 and had won 11 of 13, with the only losses coming in matches against No. 1 Elkhorn South and No. 2 Duchesne.
Yet, despite that quality, Columbus was up to the task early on.
Down 8-6, CHS won four straight thanks to a Skutt hitting error, an ace by Alex Jones, kill from Jaidyn Garrett and another ace by Jones. The Skyhawks answered back immediately with two kills, a block and an ace to tie it up. Skutt was in the midst of winning eight of 10 for an 8-2 lead then kept the momentum going winning 15 of 18 and building a 21-13 lead.
Four points from a set victory with an eight-point cushion were just too much for Columbus to overcome.
The Skyhawks then opened the second set with the first six points and built leads of 14-5 and 20-10.
Down 0-2, though, the Discoverers never wavered.
They were the ones jumping out of the gates early in set three, leading 3-1 then putting together six points in seven rallies with a Skutt service error, two hitting errors, two kills by Laura Czarnik and one from Garrett.
Strong play kept Columbus ahead 17-15 and 20-16. It was then that the momentum began to switch.
Two Skutt kills, then a CHS hitting error, forced a timeout with the lead down to 20-19. The Discoverers responded with a kill by Czarnik and an ace by Kylie Wisehart.
The Skyhawks took the ball back on a service error, Jaleigh Adams-Tuls delivered a Discoverer kill, Skutt answered with two of their own but Garrett pounded one to the court again to put Columbus at set point.
A kill, ace, kill and passing error denied CHS the win and ended the match in three.
“When you’re playing a team with four D-1 volleyball players, and their libero is at my height or a little taller at 5-11″, that kind of shows you that we just don’t match up physically, plain and simple,” Otten said. “In terms of effort and everything else, our girls did everything they could out there. They gave them everything they have.”
Of course, not finishing off the third set and forcing a fourth was extremely disappointing, but no one left the final match upset with how they played.
“It’s the last game of the year. You can’t really play those ‘what ifs.’ You just have to be proud of what you accomplished,” Otten said. “I told them they did an excellent job. They worked their butts off and they have absolutely nothing to regret from that match.”
The loss meant the final match for five seniors - Emma Benck, Laura Benck, Lauren Benck, Czarnik and Sarah Micek.
“That group did a lot of offseason work, and the younger kids saw it. They were there every day in the summer. They went to weights in the morning when they couldn’t fit it into their schedule as a class. They were making a lot of sacrifices in order to make the team we came to be,” Otten said. “I hope the younger kids take notice of that.”
Replacing five seniors means some rebuilding before next year, but Otten says the program is progressing the way she hoped after three years under her leadership.
“I think the girls are buying into my system. We’re speeding up the offense and we’re really trying to maximize the players we have in terms of size,” Otten said. “We don’t have a lot of classes coming in with 6-foot players, so we’re adapting and trying to speed up our game, and that’s exactly what the girls have been doing for me.”
Nate Tenopir is the sports editor for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org