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Tigers end season in opening round of state tournament

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LINCOLN—Fremont’s best season in the modern era came to a close Wednesday on the courts of Pinnacle Bank Arena, losing in straight sets to top-seeded Papillion-La Vista South (25-14, 25-10, 25-12).

“They are fast, powerful and really it’s hard to prepare for a team like that,” said Fremont coach Karen Nelsen. “We can throw so many things against our girls at practice, but that level is hard to replicate.”

The spotlights in Lincoln burned bright in the opening points of the night as self-inflicted wounds by the Tigers allowed the Titans to pull out in front 8-2.

“This is their second home and I do think we were excited to be here, but we were tight,” Nelsen said.

The early edge was all the undefeated Titans needed to gap the Tigers in the opener, 25-14.

The opening points of the set second was the highlight for Fremont, as the Tigers matched the Titans out to 8-8 with back-to-back aces by Mya Bolden forcing a Papillion-La Vista timeout.

Following the break, the No. 1 Titans asserted themselves, finishing the second set on a 17-2 run to go up two sets in the match.

“Even during that moment, it was our errors that allowed them to go on that run,” Nelsen said.

The final set of Fremont’s season followed a similar cadence to the first two with Papillion-La Vista breaking open the lead within the first points of the match and never looking back.

Mattie Dalton and Emmalee Sheppard both finished with five kills to lead fremont. Grace Williams added four and Ellah Hofer and Bolden both chipped in three.

Brylee Nelsen dished out 15 assists and also added a pair of kills.

“Even though they swept us, the girls will remember the feeling of being announced at state and I am so thankful that I had girls willing to put in the time to gift that memory,” Nelsen said.

Wednesday was as much about making those memories as it was the final stat lines for Fremont’s first-year head coach.

“What I said to the senior was, thank you for getting us here, you’ve done your job,” Nelsen said. “What I told the younger girls I say, now when you get back here, it’ll feel different.”

While the four seniors—Williams, Hofer, Bolden and Estudillo—on the court passed the baton on to Fremont’s underclassmen, there was also a familial tradition upheld.

Freshman Brylee Nelsen became the third generation in her family to make the state tournament as coach Karen Nelsen played in two state tournaments while being coached by her mother Dianne Theis, who is now an assistant coach for the Tigers.

“To have her sitting beside me watching Brylee, I got goosebumps,” Karen Nelsen said.

Fremont finishes the year with a 22-9 record, the most wins in a single season and completing the Tigers first winning season since 2014.


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