LINCOLN – Hastings St. Cecilia turned Arcadia-Loup City’s first state tournament appearance since 2015 into somewhat of an unpleasant experience.
Led by balance in a lot of categories, the Class C-2, No. 2 and top-seeded Hawkettes came out and took it to the Rebels during a 25-10, 25-12, 25-20 victory Thursday at Lincoln Southwest.
St. Cecilia moves into the Class C-2 semifinals at 1 p.m. Friday at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
The Hawkettes finished the match with 40 kills, 10 ace serves and 15 blocks in the match. Katherine Hamburger led the balance with 11 kills, two ace serves and two blocks, while Addi Kirkegaard chipped in nine kills and seven blocks, and Tori Thomas had eight kills, two aces and two blocks.
Setter Makenna Asher had 18 set assists to go with her six kills, three ace serves and four blocks.
The Hawkettes also had 51 digs. All that pleased HSC coach Alan VanCura.
“Our kids were well-prepared for this I thought,” he said. “They were very focused coming in. Our kids did a great job of executing the things we wanted to do. We have a lot of weapons that makes it tough for opponents to key in on. It was a great effort.”
While St. Cecilia was having its way, nerves showed for the Rebels as they fell behind 18-8 in the first, and 22-11 in the second set. Arcadia-Loup City coach Dusti VanSlyke said that played a part as did St. Cecilia’s experience. The Hawkettes have missed one state tournament since 2011.
“We came out a little scared but that has to do experience as St. Cecilia makes it down here every year,” VanSlyke said. “I don’t think we passed as well today as we did all season. But they are an all-around good team. There isn’t a weak spot anywhere on their side.”
St. Cecilia continued to put the pressure on in the third set by jumping out to a 19-12 lead.
But ALC didn’t back down. Capri Dethlefs had two kills, while Mariah Markus added another to help bring the Rebels back to within 19-16.
But a Thomas kill and two Kirkegaard blocks gave St. Cecilia some breathing room. An Asher block put St. Cecilia at match point. The Rebels fought off three match points before Chloe McCauley pounded down her sixth kill to end the match.
Calli Bauer led the Rebels with nine kills, while Markus added eight kills. Nadia VanSlyke, Dusti’s daughter, dished out 20 assists.
“The girls fought hard in that third set,” coach VanSlyke said. “And we had a great season. We had nine seniors who did a great job with their roles this year. They put their heart out there.”
As for the Hawkettes, VanCura said he’s happy to see them advance to the state semifinals for the first time since 2016, especially after getting swept by Blue Hill, who went on to win the state championship last year.
“It’s always nice to get that first one out of the way,” he said. “It was one and done last year and we are guaranteed two more matches, but we hope to be playing for the championship on Saturday.”