Grand Island Central Catholic had been waiting for Avery Kalvoda to have a breakthrough night.
The 5-9 senior had that kind of match by pounding down 23 kills to lift the Class C-2, No. 2 Crusaders to an 18-25, 25-17, 25-20, 25-14 win over crosstown rival Northwest Tuesday at Central Catholic High School.
GICC coach Sharon Zavala said Kalvoda just played a great match against the Vikings.
“She really had been struggling the past couple of games so it was nice to see her have a breakthrough night for us,” she said. “She was a smart attacker for us.”
Even though Kalvoda had a big night, the senior said it was still a team effort to get the win as the Crusaders as a team had 53 kills, nine blocks and six ace serves on the night.
“This was a fun atmosphere to play in tonight,” Kalvoda said. “There was a big crowd here and we just had to work together to get the job done.”
Northwest coach Lindsey Harders said the Vikings couldn’t stop Kalvoda.
“We knew she was the one we had to focus on the most and we struggled stopping her and she just took over the match,” she said. “We couldn’t dig her and we couldn’t block her. She has improved so much over the years.”
At first, it seemed like Northwest could almost do nothing wrong in the opening set where they had only two hitting errors and a service error. The Vikings also used a 10-3 run to end the first set after the two teams were tied at 15-all.
Whitney Brown did most of the damage with four kills, while Lauren Hauser ended the first set with a block.
“We were pretty errorless in that first set,” Harders said. “We started really strong and that’s what we’ve been trying to work on. We played very level headed and were able to do what we wanted to do.”
But as the match wore on, GICC’s balance, serving and blocking took charge.
Lauryn Willman had serving runs in the next three sets. She had a 7-0 run in the second set to give the Crusaders an 8-2 lead, was part of an 8-1 run with Courtney Toner that turned a 15-11 deficit into a 19-16 advantage in the third and 4-0 run for a 17-9 lead in the fourth. The Crusader senior had 20 service points and three ace serves on the night.
GICC sophomore Chloe Cloud had five blocks, while freshman Evan Glade had a block to end the second set and Allison Kalvoda, Katie Maser and Gracie Woods also had one.
Zavala said she was pleased with the blocking, especially from Cloud.
“She really did a nice job at the net,” she said. “It can really get into a hitter’s head and have to be careful then. It also causes the hitter to change their swing. That really helped us out down the stretch.”
Allison Kalvoda, Avery’s twin sister, added 13 kills and Woods had 10 for the Crusaders while Kate McFarland had 23 digs and Maser dished out 47 assists.
“I thought both teams had some outstanding plays and there were a lot of hustle plays,” Zavala said. “I thought Northwest played well. They didn’t give us anything and they play pretty quick.”
For Northwest, Avery Palu led the way with 10 kills, while Brown had eight kills, 20 digs and 20 assists. Rylie McNelis had seven kills, 22 digs and 20 assists.
Harders said the Vikings started to make errors as the match wore on as well. They had 17 hitting errors after the first set.
“They started to get into our heads and you can tell that there were a lot of points where we threw arms out and took stabs at the ball,” she said. “When we got caught in a scramble, we would have a communication error and wouldn’t make good contact with the ball.
“And they served a lot more aggressive than we did and pulled us out of position a lot of the time. And we gave great efforts in the first three sets but the fourth set, I felt we didn’t put that much effort into it. The girls know they can play better.”
As for the win, Avery Kalvoda said the victory over the Vikings, who have four players over 5-11, should give GICC confidence for the rest of the season.
“We had a lot of different people step up, especially our freshmen (Glade and Woods) and that should help them gain some confidence,” Kalvoda said. “Northwest has some good athletes. It was a fun match to play in tonight.”
GICC is off until the Centennial Conference Tournament, which begins on Oct. 10. Northwest, who had two matches earlier this week, heads west for the Twin Cities Tournament in Gering and Scottsbluff Friday and Saturday.