There is very little movement this week in the latest Nebraska Elite Volleyball High School Rankings. All of the top teams hold onto their #1 rankings even though both Columbus Scotus and Hastings St. Cecilia lost matches to larger-class schools last week.
For the complete rankings in all six classes, please click on the High School Rankings tab at the top of the page. In the meantime, here is a look at the more intriguing scenarios in each class during district action this week.
Millard West is the only team in Class A that should consider itself “safe” this week. As of Monday morning, the Wildcats have more than a 1.6 point advantage in the NSAA wildcard standings – meaning that they should still be able to secure the lone wild card in the class should they get upset Wednesday night. Meanwhile Lincoln Southeast holds the #2 spot in the wildcard standings with 43.2222 points and #7 Lincoln North Star is at 42.7333, meaning that there is less than a half-point difference among the rest of the contenders and zero room for error.
The districts I will be watching close include A-3 where a young Omaha Marian team is the host and top seed, but lurking are both Lincoln East (17-15) and Lincoln Northeast (14-21) which have both pulled major upsets this season.
In A-5, host Papillion-LaVista (24-10) has the task of knocking off three-time defending state champion Papillion-LaVista South (21-17). A potential match-up between the two in the district finals not only has a state-tournament berth on the line, but city bragging rights for the next 12 months. In the rivalry between those two schools, it’s hard to tell which is more important.
District A-6 has Millard North (27-11) and Grand Island (21-12) as the top two seeds, respectively. Both teams are state-tournament worthy and the Mustangs are legitimate state champion contenders, but the odds of the loser of this match getting the wild card are not good. It should be a great match and atmosphere Wednesday night at Millard North.
The same can be said for A-7, where a pair of 20-10 teams – top-seeded Lincoln North Star and North Platte – should meet for the district title. North Platte is playing its best volleyball of the season right now and North Star has lost four straight. Both teams likely need to win the district to reach state.
With Class B in its first year of a sub-state round, the most interesting thing about the district tournaments will be what the atmosphere is like in these tournaments. With the eight district champions advancing to a sub-state match along with eight wild card teams, a lot of the suspense is lost. For example, take the four-team B-2 district where Elkhorn plays Elkhorn South in a first-round match. In normal years, the season would be over for the loser. This year, it is almost a certainty that the loser of that first-round match will still make it to sub-state. You have to think that will be in the back of the mind of a lot of teams and players in Class B, which may take away from the win-or-go-home desperation and drama.
But, without a doubt, the most compelling district will be at Grand Island Northwest where the nationally ranked Vikings are hosting the B-6 tournament. That’s also where second-seeded Aurora will play for the first time since the death of its assistant coach Lauren Akerson on Saturday. The Huskies will face a solid Seward team in the first round with a possible match against Northwest for the title. Aurora is currently 5th in the NSAA wild card standings, so they will advance to sub-state on Saturday regardless of how they do on Wednesday.
Class C-1 & Class C-2
In Class C-1, there are three districts to watch closely. In sub-district C1-6, a championship match of Columbus Scotus and Columbus Lakeview is likely and would pit the top-ranked Shamrocks against one of the hottest teams in C-1. A Lakeview loss almost certainly ends their season. A Shamrock loss puts Scotus firmly on the bubble for one of the two wildcard spots. Trying to win the C1-5 district championship may be as difficult as winning a state title. Minden and Kearney Catholic will likely meet in the subdistricts while Grand Island Central Catholic, St. Paul and Wood River will battle in the other. Minden is the only team out of that group that could likely survive a loss and reach state. Meanwhile, the C1-6 district winner will come from a group of Ogallala, Gothenburg and Chadron. Chadron currently sits second in the wildcard standings, but none of the three are locks to get a wildcard should they lose.
In Class C-2, a potential subdistrict clash between Humphrey-Lindsay Holy Family and Lutheran High Northeast could take one state contender out of the race immediately. Top-ranked Hastings St. Cecilia is fourth in the wildcard standings and must clear a path that includes Blue Hill and Superior to get to state automatically.
Class D-1 & Class D-2
Class D-1 district are fairly evenly spread out, but in Class D-2, you have two districts that will have huge ramifications on the state tournament. For the D2-1 title, you have Sterling, Falls City Sacred Heart and Exeter-Milligan all in the same cluster, with each being legitimate state champion contenders. Not to be outdone, however, is the potential D2-4 district championship match between undefeated Bertrand and #2 Giltner. Even though Bertrand is 28-0, it is 4th in the wildcard standings, meaning it could fall to Giltner in the district finals and miss out on making state.