LINCOLN — Elgin Public/Pope John wrapped up their most successful volleyball season ever, taking third at the Class D-1 State Tournament.
In another marathon match which went five games, the Wolfpack defeated Guardian Angels Central Catholic 23-25, 22-25, 25-21, 25-13 and 15-10. It marked the first time this season the Wolfpack had won a five-game match, having lost their previous two.
“I’m so proud of the girls. They’ve worked hard all season,” Coach Tina Thiele-Blecher said about the match. “I felt, in the locker room (prior to the match) that we were ready to go.” She said, after dropping the first two games, theyneeded to get back to what the team does best. “I just told the girls to go out and play Wolfpack volleyball.” “You could just see the fire in their eyes,” Thiele-Blecher said about the start of the final game.
The Wolfpack played well in the first two games, but were unable to contain middle hitter Maddie Knobbe as the 6’ senior recorded numerous kills.
With their backs against the wall, the Wolfpack turned things around in Game #3. With the score tied at 5-all, Ally Wemhoff scored two points on her serve thanks to some fine net play by Elizabeth Selting. The Bluejays then built a small lead behind the net play of Maddie Knobbe and the serving of Riley Throener and Allie Knobbe.
A solo block by senior Amy Nelson and an ace tip by Selting helped the Wolfpack forge a 14-all tie. The teams then traded points before Nelson put together back-to-back kills to give the Wolfpack a 19 to 17 lead, forcing the Bluejays to call time out.
GACC was unable to stem the Wolfpack’s sudden momentum as a service point from Paige Meis combined with a kill from Grace Henn and another Nelson solo block made the score 21 to 18. The closest the Bluejays would get the rest of the way was two points as the Wolfpack claimed Game #3.
Maddie Knobbe registered four kills to help stake the Bluejays to a 5-4 lead at the start of Game #4. The Wolfpack kept the score close until Meis’ kill tied the score at 9-all.
With the score tied at 10-all, Meis stepped to the service line and served 10 consecutive points including two ace serves. Junior Grace Henn was unstoppable during the 10-point run as she had two kills on overpass balls by GACC. Henn would close out the game with three more kills from Selting sealed Game #4 with a kill on game point.
The fifth game of a volleyball match is played to 15 points. The team who seizes momentum and jumps out to an early lead usually wins. Not always, but most of the time.
Tied at 5-all, the Wolfpack took the lead on a kill by Selting. A kill by Henn boosted the lead to 7 to 5. The teams traded points before an ace tip by Nelson gave the Wolfpack a 9-7 lead. From there, the Wolfpack outscored the Bluejays seven to three to seal the victory. Selting had two kills in the run, the last coming on match point.
Selting, who was named to the Class D-1 All-Tournament Team, led the Wolfpack with 20 kills, one more than Henn. Meis added 11, Nelson had five, Nicki Payne added three and Jordan Mescher had one. Baylee Wemhoff led in set assists with 26, Ally Wemhoff had 21, Payne added six and Nelson had one to go along with her team-high five solo blocks. Henn and Baylee Wemhoff each had one solo block.
Meis led the team with two ace serves, Mescher and Ally Wemhoff each had one.
Mescher led the team in digs with 30, Nelson had 15 followed by
The Bluejays were led by Maddie Knobbe with 26 kills, the only player in double figures. She also led in solo blocks with eight. Kali Stratman had 46 set assists in the match. Allison Plagge led in digs with 18. The loss ended the Bluejays season at 18-12. By virtue of the victory, the Wolfpack end the season with a 28-5 record.
The Wolfpack ended up the season ranked #3 in the Lincoln Journal-Star Poll.