LINCOLN — Wahoo may be a basketball town, and rightfully so.
The 114-game winning streak, the championships and the entries in the record books have all made sure of it. But after Saturday, the town will now have something new to boast about: a volleyball championship.
The No. 1 Warriors (34-2) captured their first state title Saturday with a straight-set win in the Class C-1 championship match against No. 3 Grand Island Central Catholic 28-26, 25-23, 25-15 at the Devaney Sports Center, to cement what has been their strongest season in program history.
“This is really special, we’re known for our basketball, so to get a volleyball banner on our wall is pretty neat,” Wahoo coach Trish Larson said.
“It’s a really big deal for us.”
The first title was far from easy for the Warriors, despite the three-set sweep. The Crusaders (33-3) came ready to play and held a lead late in both the first two sets, but the Wahoo offense was resilient throughout the match.
The Warriors trailed 26-25 before rattling off the final three points to take the first set. In the second set, Kyla Swanson broke a 23-23 tie with back-to-back kills to put the Warriors in the driver’s seat.
“It’s been amazing (to play with talented hitters around me),” Swanson said. “We don’t have a weak rotations, they’re all strong. We have great hitters on all fronts.”
After the emotional wins in the opening two sets, the Warriors came out like a team destined to raise the trophy in the third. They jumped out to a 16-7 lead and carried the momentum for the 10-point win to close out the Crusaders.
“We were in a really good position; when your team is down 0-2, it’s really stressful, so we just told them to go out and have fun,” Larson said. “We just wanted them to take it in and compete.”
Junior Elly Larson led the Warriors with a game-high 18 kills, while Swanson finished with 15. Setter Kinsley Tingelhoff put in an all-tournament team performance with 48 set assists, and freshman Elle Glock made her presence known with nine kills.
GICC’s Megan Wood put up strong numbers, she was the only player on her team with double-digit kills (17). But once the Warriors got into system, it was tough for the Crusaders to find any rhythm or string together runs to keep them in the game.
“To get to the finals was almost unexpected with the youth of our team,” Grand Island Central Catholic coach Sharon Zavala said.
“I’m not sure we thought we’d be 33-3 this season, but the kids kept improving and I look forward to getting back next year because they’re just a really great group.”
The Warriors’ title came in just their fourth appearance at the state tournament.