By Christy Sheets
The Wallace Wildcats traveled to Lincoln on Wednesday, November 11, practicing on the way, preparing for their first game in the state tournament. Based on the Cats stellar season, and the fact that they won districts, the Lady Cats arrived in Lincoln seeded number one, and primed to face number eight Dodge.
On Thursday, the Cats would face the Dodge Tigers at Lincoln Southwest at 6:30 in the evening.
In the first set the Wildcats struck first, taking the early lead 4 to 1, but the Dodge Tigers came roaring back to take the lead 8 to 9. It was then that senior Jena Aylward rallied the troops with a seven-point service run, bringing the Cats to a 15 to 9 lead. The Tigers tried to build momentum, but a four-point service run by junior Katelynn Hild ended the set 25 to 14.
In the second set, the Tigers were ready to retaliate, refusing to let the Cats build any momentum, tying the score at three, seven, thirteen, and seventeen. It was then that Hild once again rallied the Cats with a four-point service run, bringing the Cats to 22 to 17, and breaking away from the Tigers. The Tigers tried to rally back, by the Cats were too tough, closing the set 25 to 21 on a well-placed tip from senior, Katie West.
In the third set the Cats came out strong, sensing the blood in the water and the Cats took the early lead, 15 to 9. Junior, Shanice “Bob” Harris put together a seven-point run to take the Cats to within one of the match, 24 to 13. The Tigers fought off two match points, but the Cats were lethal, winning the third set 25 to 15.
Leading the team offensively against Dodge was Harris with 12 points, followed by Hild with 9 points. West (2 aces) and Aylward each had 8 points, O’Brien had 4 points (2 aces), and Smith had 3 points. Leading the team with set assists was O’Brien with 20, followed by Hild with 19.
Defensively, West led the team with 15 kills and 2 blocks, followed closely by Aylward with 14 kills and 1 block. Smith had 9 kills, and Harris had 2 kills.
Wallace vs Greeley-Wolbach
The Wallace Wildcats were then set to play Friday morning at 10:00 against the hard-hitting Titans of Greeley-Wolbach at Lincoln Southeast. Primed for a battle, both teams took the court with high expectations.
The Cats started the match a bit slow, allowing the Titans to take the early lead 4 to 1, but the Cats battled back to tie the set at eight. The Titans regained the lead, but a service run by Hild, gave the Cats an 18 to 12 lead, shifting the momentum in the Cats favor. The Cats closed the set 25 to 17.
In the second set, the Cats once again allowed the Titans to take the early lead, but they battled back to tie the set at six. Unfortunately, for the Cats the momentum then shifted to the Titans favor. The Cats tried to stay in the set, but the Titans dominated, winning the set 13 to 25.
In the third set the Titans once again took the early lead, but the Cats pulled even at seven. O’Brien then gave the Cats a little wiggle room with a three-point service run, giving the Cats a 10 to 7 lead, and forcing the Titans to take a time out. The Titans continued to fight, but the Cats were slowly building their lead. Aylward stepped up to put the exclamation point on the set, slamming the ball to the court, 25 to 20.
In the fourth set the Titans seemed out for revenge, taking the early lead and never relinquishing it. The Cats tried to claw their way back into the set, but the Titans would have none of it closing the set 17 to 25, tying the match at two sets all.
In the fifth set the Cats won the serve, and for the first time in the match took a commanding lead, 5 to 0, on a five-point service run by O’Brien. The Titans battled back, but the Cats maintained their lead, and at 14 to 8 the match seemed a sure win. Unfortunately, some bad calls and missed opportunities allowed the Titans to tie the set at fourteen. The Cats took the lead, 15 to 14 on a kill by Harris, but the Titans retaliated. It was then the Titans turn to take their first lead of the match. One more miss placed ball saw the Cats hopes dashed. The Titans won the set and the match, 15 to 17.
Leading the team offensively against Greeley-Wolbach was O’Brien with 11 points, followed by West with 7 points (1 ace). Hild and Harris had 6 points each, and Smith and Aylward each had 3 points. Leading the team with set assists was Hild with 23, followed by O’Brien with 18, and Aylward and West each with 1.
Defensively, West led the team with 16 kills and 2 blocks, followed by Aylward with 10 kills and 2 blocks, and Harris with 10 kills 1 block. Smith had 7 kills and 2 blocks, and O’Brien had 1 kill.
Wallace vs. Chambers
The loss to Greeley-Wolbach meant the number one Cats would face the number two Coyotes of Chambers in the Consolation match, once again at Southeast High School.
In the first set the Wildcats took the early lead, 5 to 2. The Coyotes battled back, but the Lady Cats refused to give up the lead, winning the set 25 to 21.
In the second set, the Coyotes took the early lead, and the disappointed Cats seemed tired and frustrated. Aylward, being the one of the senior leaders, stepped up and began making plays. Her four-point service run gave the Cats the lead, and seemed to breathe new life into the Wildcat team. The Coyotes regained the lead, but the Cats battled back to tie the set at twenty-five. The score went back and forth, and the Cats fell just short of the set, 27 to 29.
In the third set the Cats, after barely losing the second set, seemed deflated. Miss hits and missed opportunities cost the Cats the third set, 15 to 25, giving the Coyotes the lead two sets to one.
The fourth set, surprisingly, saw a newly motivated Lady Cat team. After some words from the bench between sets, the Cats took the early lead in the fourth set, 6 to 1, on a five-point service run by O’Brien. The Coyotes worked hard to rattle the Cats, but this time the Cats would not be rattled. The Cats dominated the fourth set, 25 to 13, to stay in the match and tie the set score at two all.
The fifth set saw the Cats off to the early lead once again, 6 to 2. The fifth set also saw a very motivated crowd, ready to back their Cats every step of the way, forcing Chambers to take a time-out to regroup, and regroup they did, as it was Chambers turn to put together a run and force the Cats to call a time-out.
Aylward seemed determined as they took the court, refusing to let another game slip through her fingers. She rallied the troops with help from junior setter Hild, and the girls started to believe that they could win this match. Everyone was giving their all and refused to let the ball drop, and the final point came as West pounded the ball to the court, 15 to 10.
The gym erupted, and tears streaked everyone’s cheeks. Their third place victory could not have felt any better. It was awe inspiring watching each girl receive her medal and heart felt praise from their coaches. The Wallace Lady Cats may have won third place, but at that moment, it felt like first.
When asked about the tournament, coach Rohde said, “Wow!”, and coach Strand, “Awesome!” Coach Rohde added, “It was an exceptional season with a great group of girls.”
Leading the team offensively against Chambers was O’Brien with 15 points (2 aces), followed by Hild with 12 points, and West with 11 points (2 aces). Aylward had 9 points (1 ace), Smith had 4 points, and Harris had 2 points. Leading the team with set assists were Hild and O’Brien each with 24, and Harris with 1.
Defensively, Aylward led the team with 21 kills and 2 blocks, followed closely by West with 20 kills. Smith had 10 kills, and Harris had 9 kills.
As a side note, Greeley-Wolbach won the D2 Championship in five sets over Clay Center. Also Greeley-Wolbach’s only loss of the season was to Chambers. Our Wallace Lady Cats have had a truly outstanding season, and I have enjoyed every single moment.