Top-ranked Wahoo High School didn’t enter Friday’s Class C-1 semifinals in uncharted territory, but it was pretty close.
“We don’t get to semifinals often — this is only our second time — so the girls were a bit nervous,” Wahoo coach Trish Larson said. “I knew these girls really wanted it though.”
The Warriors’ desire to get to the C-1 title game seemed to outweigh the nerves Friday at Pinnacle Bank Arena as they looked like veterans of the big stage in a 25-23, 25-18, 25-22 sweep of No. 2 North Bend to punch a ticket to Saturday’s state championship match.
The top two teams in C-1 both came ready to play and the tight first set could’ve gone either way as they traded points throughout. Two service errors hurt the Tigers late, however, and Wahoo escaped the set with a victory.
The emotion of the close opening-set win clearly fired up the Warriors, and they looked like a different team in the second set. Illinois recruit and Wahoo standout junior Kyla Swanson started heating up in the set and the Tigers just didn’t have an answer.
She finished the set with six kills and an ace serve in the seven-point set win.
“A lot of the time we figured out where (Swanson) was hitting it, she hit it somewhere else,” North Bend Central coach Amy Sterup said. “They’re all good players though, they’re a good team. I wish we could’ve taken a set from them but it didn’t happen today. Another day it could’ve been different.”
Swanson finished with nine kills while her teammate Elly Larson recorded a match-high 17 kills, including six in the third set to secure the sweep.
After closing out the Tigers in the third set, the Warriors are now on to some actual uncharted territory, the state championship match.
“From day one, we were dreaming big,” Coach Larson said. “We told them that they were a team that could get to the state championship. I don’t know if they believed it right away but we worked hard and now to actually accomplish it is really cool to see.”
Setter Kinsley Tingelhoff had 42 set assists for Wahoo while Elle Glock had 11 kills.
The loss was only the second of the year for the Tigers. West Virginia recruit Kristin Lux led the Tigers with 13 kills and three ace blocks in the semifinal. Midland University recruit Brooke Fredrickson had 11 kills and 11 digs.
Lauren Emanuel contributed five kills while Kaitlynn Bjorklund had 26 set assists and 13 digs. Hailey Bang had 12 digs.
North Bend will play Lincoln Lutheran in the third-place match at 9 Saturday morning at Lincoln Southeast. Wahoo will face Grand Island Central Catholic at 3 Saturday afternoon at the Bob Devaney Sports Center in the championship match.