Rockets win cross-state battle, make tourney

Lynn Wilhelm

Syracuse, in the far southeast corner of Nebraska, and Mitchell, in the far western part of the panhandle, met halfway in Brady (between Gothenburg and North Platte) for the Class C1-5 matchup. In Class C1, if the teams are further than 180 miles apart, the match will be played at a neutral site halfway between.

Set 1

The Tigers started the match on a kill, but quickly learned that the Rockets had numerous weapons in their arsenal. With the score tied at 3, the Rockets started going on runs with each server while Mitchell only held serve twice during the entire match. After senior Kennedy Stanley had a setter dump for a kill, Mitchell called its first timeout with the score 8-4. To no avail, the Rockets came out of the timeout with a kill by sophomore Delainey Cast. With five service aces in the set, the Rockets kept Mitchell out of sync as the Rockets took leads of 10-5, 15-6, 20-8, and finally, 25-10 on an ace serve by senior Lindsey Moss for the win. 

Set 2

The Tigers pushed harder in set 2 with some early momentum but still could not keep up with the Rockets. Syracuse took leads of 10-7, 15-11, 20-14, and 25-21. More hitting errors plagued both teams but the Rockets still had 15 kills in the set. 

Set 3

As the Rockets kept pushing, the Tigers dwindled in the third set. With the Rocket serve receive and defense in the backcourt on target, Stanley was able to set the Rockets to 15 more kills and only one hitting error. With leads of 10-7, 15-8, 20-9, and finally 25-11 on a kill by senior Lily Vollertsen assisted by senior libero Shayla Thompson, the Rockets punched their ticket to state.

With shots coming from all across the net and placed in strategic locations throughout the night and hitting .287 as a team, the final stat sheet had Moss leading with 13 kills, Cast 12, Vollertsen 11, and sophomore Kayden Sisco 7. Stanley dished out 41 set assists. Stanley and Moss led with 12 digs each, Thompson 11, Cast 8, and sophomore Rylee Seelhoff and Vollertsen with 6 each. The Rockets served 94.2% with 7 aces and only 4 errors. Moss had 3 aces and Thompson 2.

The #5 seeded Syracuse will get a rematch with #4 seeded Columbus Lakeview in the first round of state. Lakeview ended Syracuse’s run at state last year in the first round.  The game will take place on Wednesday, November 3, at 3:00. All classes, all sessions Wednesday thru Friday are played at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln. Class C semifinal games are Friday at 1:00 and 3:00. The C1 championship game is Saturday at 3:00 p.m. at the Devaney Sports Center with the third-place game at 9:00 a.m. at Lincoln Northeast High School. First-round and semifinal games can be viewed at www.nfhsnetwork.com. The finals will be on Nebraska Public Media (NET).