St. Paul claims LPC championship
DONIPHAN — St. Paul coach Matt Koehn-Fairbanks knew the Class C-1 No. 4-rated Wildcats had to play a near-perfect match to top No. 1-rated and four-time defending state champion Kearney Catholic Thursday evening.
St. Paul did just that. The Wildcats did about everything right in defeating the Stars 25-18, 25-23, 25-23 to win the Lou-Platte Conference tournament title for the first time since 2013.
The Wildcats outhit the Stars 42-29 in kills, had seven ace serves and seven blocks in the victory even though they had to hold off Kearney Catholic runs. Claira Thede led the offense with 36 set assists.
“I think we came close to playing a perfect match,” Koehn-Fairbanks said. “It was a team effort tonight. We don’t do it without everyone contributing. They all believed they could do it and they showed they could tonight.”
Lesley Fox did most of the damage for St. Paul, finishing the night with a match-high 18 kills — including nine in the second set — and also had three ace serves and two blocks.
“(Winning conference) is an awesome feeling. I was a freshman when we last won conference and beat Kearney Catholic,” Fox said. “I know we’ve been wanting to get back here. Everybody did what they had to do to win tonight. Our passes, hitting, setting, everything was clicking tonight.”
While the victory was a team effort, Koehn-Fairbanks said Fox did a great job of being a leader for the Wildcats.
“She really had ice in her veins. It all began with serve receive as they were serving her and she helped us get into system and let other players get involved,” he said. “When she rotated to the front row, she just kept swinging aggressively.
Kearney Catholic is a great blocking team and Lesley is only 5-7 1/2. She really has to work for her kills and she showed the maturity of a four-year starter.”
Kearney Catholic built an early 10-7 lead, but a Fox kill gave serve back to St. Paul and Bree Carlson served a 5-0 run with an ace serve to take a 13-10 lead. St. Paul slowly pulled away from there with Hayley Fox, Lesley’s younger sister, finished with six kills down the stretch, including one at set point to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead.
It was almost all Lesley Fox in the second set as she came away with nine kills in the set that helped St. Paul build a 20-14 lead. Kearney Catholic did try to mount a comeback as Kylie Thiele had seven of her team-high 10 kills to come back to 21-19. St. Paul pushed it to 24-21 on a Lesley Fox back-row kill, but an Anna Squiers’ kill and block brought it to 24-23. A Hayley Fox kill gave St. Paul a 2-0 lead.
Lesley Fox had three kills to push the third-set lead to 11-7, then Hayley Fox had four to later take it to 21-13.
St. Paul had to hold off the Stars again as Jenny Beans served a 3-0 run to bring it to 24-23. However, a Brooke Poppert block gave the Wildcats the sweep.
Thiele led Kearney Catholic with 10 kills, while Sarah Oldfather had seven. Squiers had five kills, 11 assists and six blocks.
Kearney Catholic coach Kris Conner said the Stars never really got into a flow at all in the match and a lot of that had with its ball control. The Stars had 14 hitting errors in the match.
“We really struggled with our ball control and St. Paul had a lot to do with that,” Conner said. “They were outstanding with their ball control tonight and were in system a lot more than we were.”
Hayley Fox added 13 kills, while Jaden Jakubowski and Poppert each had four for the Wildcats.
Koehn-Fairbanks said it’s nice to win the conference championship, but he knows there’s plenty of work to do. The Wildcats play at Kearney Catholic again Tuesday.
“(Winning the conference tournament) is great and the girls played very well in winning the match,” Koehn-Fairbanks said. “But I’m sure Kris will have her kids ready to play much better than they did tonight. It should be a great match.”
In the consolation match, Ord recovered after dropping the opening set in a 21-25, 25-14, 25-19, 25-21 over Doniphan-Trumbull.
The Chants’ serving picked up after that. After not recording an ace serve in the opening set, Ord finished with 16 ace serves. The Chants had seven alone in the second set, and Cora Svoboda had five of her seven aces in a 9-0 run for a 11-6 third-set lead.
“Our serving really picked up and Cora’s run gave us a huge boost,” Ord coach Wendy Alexander said. “The girls let go of some errors that happened in the first set. They played aggressive tonight.”
Andrea Carson led the Chants with 23 kills and four blocks, while Svoboda added 10. Ashley Carson had 46 assists.
McKenna Neimoth paced the Cardinals with 17 kills, while Ellie Koch and Kalee Wiltfong each added six in the loss. Carsyn Poppe had 24 assists.
St. Paul 3, Kearney Catholic 0
St. Paul (26-1) 25 25 25
Kearney Catholic (26-4) 18 23 23
ST. PAUL (Kills-aces-blocks) — Bailey Lukasiewicz 0-2-0, Lesley Fox 18-3-2, Grace Jerabek 0-0-0, Bree Carlson 0-1-0, Jaden Jakubowski 4-1-0, Tehya Jerabek 2-0-1, Claira Thede 1-0-0, Brooke Poppert 4-0-1, Hayley Fox 13-0-3.
KEARNEY CATHOLIC (Kills-aces-blocks) — Kayla Lee 0-1-0, Kylie Thiele 10-1-0, Ashlynn Schmaderer 0-0-0, Emma Ryan0-0-0, Olivia Micek 0-2-0, Anna Trettel 0-0-0, Anna Squiers 5-0-6, Nicole Shundoff 1-0-0, Emilee Moore 1-0-0, Jordan Streit 5-0-0, Sarah Oldfather 7-0-1, Jenny Beans 0-2-0.
ASSISTS — SP: Thede 36, Carlson 1, L. Fox 1. KC: Micek 12, Squiers 11, Oldfather 1, Streit 1.
Doniphan-Trumbull (19-6) 25 14 19 21
Ord (21-4) 21 25 25 25
DONIPHAN-TRUMBULL (Kills-aces-blocks) — Kalee Wiltfong 6-0-0, Ellie Koch 6-0-4, Carsyn Poppe 0-1-0, Maddie Fitch 1-0-1, Logan Poppe 3-1-0, Ana Terrazas 0-1-0, McKenna Niemoth 17-0-1, Madi Groshans 1-0-0, Abby Williams 0-0-0.
ORD (Kills-aces-blocks) — Ali Smith 0-0-0, Delani Fahey 0-2-0, Cali Lech 2-0-2, Cora Svoboda 10-7-1, Danielle Bruha 8-3-2, Reilly Peetz 0-0-0, Hailey Zulkoski 0-0-0, Andrea Carson 23-0-4, Ashley Carson 4-4-0, Susie Vavra 6-0-0.
SET ASSISTS — DT: C. Poppe 24, Williams 2, Niemoth 2, Fitch 1. O: As. Carson 46, Smith 1.