LINCOLN — Fremont Bergan moved one step closer on Friday morning to its first state volleyball championship.
The top-seeded Lady Knights dominated fourth-seeded Pleasanton 25-15, 25-12, 25-16 in the Class D-1 state semifinals at the Pinnacle Bank Arena. Bergan will face third-seeded Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family at 11 Saturday morning at the Bob Devaney Sports Center for the state title.
“We played really well,” Bergan coach Sue Wewel said. “We served and serve received really well today and we really got up on the block.”
Augustana recruit Lexie Langley led the Lady Knights in kills (14), ace serves (six) and digs (25). She tied fellow senior Haley Kempf for the team lead in blocks with three.
“Lex was getting up big and loved hitting out of that left side,” Wewel said. “She stepped up like the player she is. She played a great defensive game and she was reading everything so well.”
The Lady Knights will be appearing in their first state final since 2004 when they lost in four sets to Humphrey Saint Francis. Langley told the Tribune earlier in the week that the Lady Knights are hungry for a championship.
“It would mean so much because since my freshman year that has been the goal,” the 6-0 outside hitter said. “I’ve always wanted to win a state championship and give Coach Wewel her first one. It would mean so much to me, the team and her as well. We want to give her everything she deserves. She is such a great coach. She really deserves to have one of those gold medals around her neck.”
Fellow senior Allison Dieckmann, who finished with 31 set assists, eight digs and two ace serves, agrees.
“To be in the championship match and go out and get it for her would be something special,” the Nebraska Wesleyan recruit said.
Pleasanton coach Shane Nordby said the Lady Knights played a solid match.
“Their ball control made them really good and they serve really tough,” he said. “We became a little too one-dimensional — throwing the ball up to the outside. You do that with a team like this and you are going to struggle.”
The opening set was tied at 5 before Langley hammered a kill and then delivered two ace serves. Pleasanton closed to 8-7, but an Allie DeGroff kill started a 5-0 Bergan run that included two aces by Lauren Baker and a Kempf kill. The Bulldogs never recovered.
Bergan had 14 aces in the match while the Bulldogs only had four.
“I thought their (Pleasanton’s) serves would be a little bit stronger, especially No. 3 (Kacie Pierce) with her top-spin serve, but we handled that well from the start,” Wewel said. “The other thing was our double block really got up on their hitters.”
The second set was tied at 4, but Langley’s kill started a 6-1 run by Bergan. Langley ended the set with an ace.
“I think to win a game, you have to serve aggressively,” Langley said. “That was a big key for us.”
Bergan only led 8-6 in the third game, but Langley delivered three ace serves during a 6-1 Lady Knights’ run. Emma Walz’s block put Bergan up 14-7. The Bulldogs cut the deficit to 15-11 on a Katie Lindner kill before Bergan scored the next six points.
Kempf and DeGroff had eight kills apiece for Bergan. Baker added five kills and two aces. DeGroff had four kills in the second set.
“She was big on our right side and on the block, too,” Wewel said of the junior.
Lindner had seven of the Bulldogs’ 13 kills. Pleasanton will face Johnson-Brock in the third-place match at 1 Saturday afternoon at Lincoln Northeast.
Bergan, 32-4, has already set the school record for wins. The Lady Knights hope they can add one more to the list.
“The girls have worked really hard to get to this point,” Wewel said. “This is a big deal for our program.”
FREMONT BERGAN 3, PLEASANTON 0
Pleasanton (Kills-solo blocks-service aces) — Kaci Pierce 1-0-0, Isabelle Paitz 3-0-0, McKenna Siegel 0-0-1, Cadee Nichols 0-0-1, Paige Weisdorfer 0-0-2, Katie Lindner 7-1-0, Meghan Fisher 1-0-0, Natalie Siegel 1-0-0. Totals 13-1-4.
Fremont Bergan — Allison Dieckmann 1-0-2, Lexie Langley 14-3-6, Haley Kempf 8-3-1, Kaia McIntyre 1-0-1, Allie DeGroff 8-1-2, Lauren Baker 5-2-2, Emma Walz 0-2-0. Totals 37-11-14.
Assist leaders — (P) McKenna Siegel, 15. (FB) Dieckmann, 31. Dig leaders — (P) Natalie Siegel, 11. (FB) Langley, 25.