Three state-ranked teams met at McGahan Activities Center on Tuesday for some volleyball action. St. Pat's (13-8) is ranked No. 9 in Class D-1 and Ogallala (22-6) and Grand Island Central Catholic (14-9) came into the triangular as the No. 4 and No. 6 teams, respectively, in Class C-1.
Ogallala brought their 'A' game as the Lady Indians defeated GICC 25-15 and 25-17 and then downed St. Pat's 25-9 and 25-19. GICC defeated St. Pat's in the opening contest 25-8 and 25-9.
Ogallala dominated at the net against GICC and the Lady Indians' scrappy defense made it difficult for the Lady Crusaders to find success on offense.
Lady Indians coach, Steve Morgan, said it means a lot to play Central Catholic and coach Sharon Zavala.
"Sharon has the most wins of any coach in the state of Nebraska," Morgan said. "She is the pillar of volleyball in Nebraska.
"Any time we can push them, execute some good offense against them and beat them you have to feel good."
Ogallala jumped out early in set one against the Lady Crusaders on kills by Sidney Mell and Jensen Geisert along with a block by Kendall Schroer and a Shayna Shaw service ace for a 5-0 lead.
The Lady Indians continued to put together runs of four, six and four to increase the lead to 19-8. Runs that Zavala said her team just couldn't recover from.
"They just ball handled better than we did and they played a little faster," said Zavala. "They have some really good athletes.
"I told Steve he has the complete package. We have some young kids and at times we could stay with them but we let them have the runs. If we could stop that then you have an interesting ballgame."
The two teams traded points the rest of the set with the Lady Indians' Sophia Arensdorf putting down the final two kills for Ogallala for the one-set lead.
The second set was close for most the early going. The teams were tied nine times, the final coming at 11-11 before the Lady Indians began to pull away.
Ogallala put together runs of three and four points while holding the Lady Crusaders to no more than two successive points. Geisert and Schroer had five kills in the set and Mell had four.
Mell and Schroer put up blocks throughout the match as the Lady Indians frustrated the Grand Island CC attack.
"Blocking is something that has been a little weak on our part and we need to work on it a lot more," Morgan said. "You get Sid up there along with Kendall to set the block. I'm very fortunate as a coach to have kids want to play that hard and have that kind of talent."
Emma Benton tried to carry the GICC offense with five kills in each the first and second sets.
"Emma had a pretty good game. Again, our passing caused some setting problems," said Zavala. "It's tough to hit a ball that's spinning and tough to set a ball that's spinning.
"Like I told the girls we just have to keep working at getting better. This kind of competition can't hurt us. We want to play tough competition and try to see where we need to improve."
Schroer and Mell led the Lady Indians with seven kills in the match and Jenna Paloucek had 21 set assists. Geisert and Demi Anderson had 10 defensive digs and Schroer had two ace serves.
Ogallala defeats St. Pat's
Two runs of six and seven points, set the tone for Ogallala's 25-9 first-set win against the Lady Irish. Schroer had two ace serves in the initial run of six and was helped by a kill and block by Mell and a Shelby Welsh kill to go up 12-3.
The second run would consist of two Mell kills and single kills by Ali Knaggs, Welsh and a Anderson service ace and Paloucek block for a 19-4 lead.
Even though Ogallala went on to a 25-9 win, Morgan felt the Lady Irish were better than against GICC.
"I thought the St. Pat's defense played better in the first game [against us] than they did against Grand Island Central Catholic," said Morgan. "I really thought they played well.
"Offensively they are very young, but they have a superstar and she seems like an extremely nice lady. She's going on to a great career under one of my former players [Angie Oxley]."
St. Pat's coach Shelly Byrn knew the competition would be stiff in the triangular.
"I told the girls the volleyball they see tonight will be very similar to what they'll see at the state tournament," Byrn said. "We're on a roller coaster. We're going to be pretty down and that's what happens when you have youth. I just hope when districts come we're at the top of the roller coaster."
The second set went much better for the Lady Irish. Although falling behind 8-2 early on a 7-0 Ogallala run, the Lady Irish fought back to trail just three at 16-13. Brittany Lawrence had two kills and a block in a four-point run that boosted the Lady Irish offense. Later in the set, an Alli Skala kill along with a Bri Boyer service ace had the Lady Irish trailing just 22-18.
But Ogallala scored three of the final four points in claiming the match win.
"We get in there and Brittany gets us going. She's learning a lot too," said Byrn. "Brittany's learning a lot as she goes.
"It was great facing a big blocker [in Kendall]. Brittany is learning to take a little bit off her cuts left and right and starting to be successful with those and gaining in confidence."
With the South Platte Valley Association tournament this weekend, Byrn hopes the Lady Irish can use the experience of the tough competition during the triangular.
"People will look at the scores and think we got blown out," Byrn said. "The coaching staff and the girls can't focus on the scores of the game. We have to take this as a learning opportunity and get better and prepared for the end of the season.
"I think this was a great start for us this week to get ready for SPVA. It's going to be tough. We have a few nights to work on some things and get ready for Saturday."
Lawrence finished the triangular with 10 kills and Amanda McClellen had five kills and 16 digs. Zandra Carlini had 16 digs and Jordyn Childears had 12 points and 17 set assists.