Epic Rally Takes Down St. Mary’s

O’NEILL — In posting 19 straight victories, Elgin Public-Pope John has done many things on the volleyball court.
On Tuesday night against O’Neill St. Mary’s, they did the improbable in rallying to win both games 26-24, 26-24.
Coach Tina Thiele-Blecher said the victory was the first in quite a while over the Cardinals who have been one of the dominant teams in the NVC.
It didn’t come easy Tuesday night, but it was arguably the most exciting match of the year for the Wolfpack. The Cardinals, ranked #4 in Class D-2 by the Omaha World-Herald, entered the match with a 12-2 record. The Wolfpack, the only undefeated team in Class D-1, was ranked #1. Neither team disappointed fans in the stands.
St. Mary’s opened the match scoring at will against the Wolfpack, bolting out to a 9 to 0 lead. EPPJ answered back with seven service points from Calli Krebs, aided by kills from Elizabeth Selting and Amy Nelson, to close to 9 to 7. The teams then traded points as St. Mary’s pulled out to a 16 to 10 lead. Keeping EPPJ within striking distance was junior Paige Meis with an ace tip and a service ace from Selting.
Trailing 19 to 14, the Wolfpack utilized strong serves from Jordan Mescher and kills at the net from Grace Henn and Nelson to string together a seven-to-one run to take a 21 to 20 lead. The Wolfpack maintained the lead, but squandered one game point. However, they capitalized on the next opportunity to win 26 to 24.
Game #2 was hotly contested in the early going. Tied 13-all, St. Mary’s appeared ready to win the game as they won 10 points in a row. Leading 23 to 13, Krebs served EPPJ back into the game. Two ace serves and a kill from Selting cut St. Mary’s lead to 23 to 17. Then St. Mary’s recorded a sideout and served for the game. However, their attack was out, making the score 24 to 18. With Nelson on the service line and Selting in the front row, the Wolfpack attacked with an eight-to-zero run to close out the match. Setter Baylee Wemhoff fed Selting who responded with three kills. Nelson added two ace serves. With victory in their grasp, the Wolfpack won the game and the match, again the score being 26 to 24.
Afterwards, Selting said she and her teammates were determined to beat the Cardinals and rode a crest of momentum to close out the match.
On this memorable night, Selting led the way with 14 kills. She was 20 of 23 hitting with a hitting percentage of .478.
The Wolfpack had 29 kills in the match. Aside from Selting, Nelson had seven kills, Henn added five, Meis posted two and Nicki Payne recorded one. Meis had the team’s only solo block in the match.
EPPJ was 48 of 50 from the service line (96 percent) with six aces. Krebs and Baylee Wemhoff each had two, Selting and Nelson each had one.
Mescher, Krebs and Baylee Wemhoff tied for the team-high in digs with three apiece, Nelson and Selting each had two while Payne and Ally Wemhoff each had one.
Baylee Wemhoff led EPPJ in set assists with 21, Payne had three.
Mescher again led in serve receive with 15, Selting had seven, Krebs and Payne each had three.
Humphrey St. Francis
The Wolfpack began the triangular with a 25-18, 17-25 and 25-13 victory over Humphrey St. Francis.
After splitting the first two games, EPPJ seized momentum in the third game, scoring the first nine points and cruised from there to the victory. The outcome was never in doubt from that point on.
Wolfpack front liners Selting (17), Nelson (10) and Henn (nine) combined for 36 kills in the match. Meis added six and Payne had two. The team was a combined 75 of 97 hitting.
Baylee Wemhoff had four ace serves in the match, Selting had three. The Wolfpack were successful on 58 of 63 serve attempts.
Henn and Meis each had two solo blocks in the match, Nelson added one.
Mescher led the team in digs with eight, Krebs had five.
Baylee Wemhoff had 17 set assists, Ally Wemhoff added eight and Payne had six.
Mescher also led the team in serve receive with 17, Selting had 10.