The 2019 season has been one to remember for the Broken Bow volleyball team.
The Indians set the school record for wins in a season with 32 and won both the Southwest Conference regular season and tournament titles for the first time since 1998.
But all of that wouldn’t have mattered if Broken Bow had not reached the state tournament.
Thanks to a four-set victory over Kearney Catholic in the Class C-1, District 4 final Saturday at Cozad, the No. 4 Indians did reach the state tournament for the first time since 2000.
The Indians (32-2) will take on No. 6 Wayne at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at Lincoln North Star.
Broken Bow coach Skyler Morris said the No. 1 goal for the Indians, who have won 22 straight matches, was to get to the state tournament and there was so much pressure on the players do that.
“I don’t think our season would have felt complete if we didn’t reach the state tournament,” Morris said. “This is just something the girls and us coaches wanted so extremely bad because it might be a while before we get back there again. This group loves the game so much and put so much work into it that I wanted them to experience a state tournament so bad.”
Majesta Valasek has been one of the go-to players for the Indians this season. The Broken Bow senior, who reached the 1,000 career kill mark, has pounded down 401 this year, along with 255 digs and 25 ace serves.
“She’s been a dynamic player throughout her career but this year, she really has improved in taking the game in a little more. She’s been able to carry the team on her shoulders a lot better this season than she has in the past,” Morris said. “She hasn’t put as much pressure on herself.”
But Morris said it’s been the other senior leadership that has helped as well. Madison Neely and Lindsey Schauda have contributed with 115 and 114 kills, respectively, while Emily Trotter has 235 digs. Sydney Carrizales has chipped in 42 kills and Keiana Kociemba is a defensive specialist that has 82 digs.
“Our seniors and other players have done a great job in understanding their roles,” Morris said. “A lot of our players have been so much more consistent than they have been in the past.”
And two sophomores have been contributors too in twin sisters Kailyn and Kya Scott. Kailyn is the setter with 743 set assists, while Kya has 165 kills and a team-high 306 digs. Morris said those players have blossomed from their freshmen to sophomore years.
“They are definitely playing older than what they are,” Morris said. “They have great court sense for being only sophomores.”
Broken Bow is taking on a Wayne team that Morris feels is almost similar to the Indians. Lauren Pick leads the Blue Devils with 523 kills, while Emily Armstrong had chipped in 261 kills. Kiara Krusemark has 971 assists.
Wayne also has six players with over 150 digs, including two with over 400 in Hailey Backer (485) and Armstrong (408).
Morris said she has seen Wayne play as the Blue Devils were at the Seward Tournament in late September but the Indians never got the opportunity to play them.
“They may be short as their tallest player is 5-10, but they play scrappy defense,” she said. “They have a really good attacker. I think we are pretty even. It should be a good matchup for fans to watch on Thursday.”
And Morris said no matter what happens at the state tournament this week, she feels the Indians have made the community proud of their accomplishments. She said the C1-4 final at Cozad was filled with Broken Bow fans on their side and had a few on Kearney Catholic’s side as well and hopes it’s the same in Lincoln this week.
“Our fans were so great on Saturday and I’m sure we’ll have a big crowd down in Lincoln on Thursday,” Morris said. “They have been so supportive to the girls this year and I’m sure what the girls have done has made them proud for what they’ve done this year.”