O’NEILL — Seventh-seeded Cody-Kilgore rallied on Saturday to deny Mead a berth in the Class D-2 state volleyball tournament.
The Raiders, appearing in their first district championship game since 2013, suffered a 25-16, 22-25, 23-25, 25-21, 16-14 loss in the D2-7 final at O’Neill High School.
“We gave it everything we had in the match and came up just two points short,” Mead coach Keshia Havelka said. “In the first set I think we had some nerves present and made a lot of mistakes.”
The Raiders adjusted their rotation in the second game.
“We did that to give a different look against Cody’s best player (Addison Johnson),” Havelka said. “Once we did that, our hitters were able to find some kills and gain confidence.”
After winning the set second, the Raiders were down 23-20. Lauren Holloway came off the bench as a serving specialist and delivered five straight points to put Mead up 2-1.
“We made some great plays in that run, including a diving chase save by (libero) Michyla Lihs and the finish by Delaney Patocka,” Havelka said. “We had all the momentum gong into the fourth set, but their middle hitter got hot late in game four and we couldn’t stop her fast enough.”
Mead trailed 13-7 in the fourth set, but Lihs served six straight points to tie it.
“That run was probably one of the best comebacks I have seen us make,” Havelka said. “The season was two points from ending, but they kept grinding.”
Cody-Kilgore forced match point with a kill, but Bri Lemke’s kill tied it. C-K forced another match point with a kill and a lift call on the Raiders ended it.
“It was a heartbreaking ending to an amazing match,” Havelka said.
Lemke led the Raiders with 20 kills. Abby Miller added nine while Becca Halbmaier and Patocka had eight apiece.
Lihs finished with 22 digs and Miller had 21. Josie Parham finished with 31 set assists and Emily Quinn had 19. Holloway chipped in five digs.
Johnson had 17 kills for Cody-Kilgore and teammate Kenzie Barnes contributed 12. The Cowboys play Bruning/Davenport/Shickley at 5:30 Thursday night at Lincoln Southeast in the opening round of the D-2 state tournament.
The Raiders end their season with a 15-12 record.