NORTH PLATTE – Sometimes, when two great things come together they create something special. Bert and Ernie. Batman and Robin. Macaroni and Cheese. Spongebob and Patrick. Jordan and Pippen. Starsky and Hutch.
On the volleyball court in North Platte Thursday night, Bulldog seniors Allison Kuenle and Olivia Nicholson looked every bit the equal to those dynamic duos in leading Class A #3 North Platte to a 25-15, 25-19, 25-22 win over Class B #2 Grand Island Northwest.
Outside hitter Kuenle, a Nebraska-Kearney recruit, started strong with seven kills in the first set and finished the match with 20 while hitting .429 on the night. Meanwhile, middle hitter Nicholson, a Colorado State recruit, closed out the match in impressive fashion with eight of her 15 kills coming in the third set. For the match, Nicholson finished with a .500 hitting percentage.
Northwest, which fell to 6-1 on the season with the loss, tried to withstand the power hitting of Kuenle and Nicholson with sound blocking and defense, but simply could not match the Bulldogs’ firepower offensively.
North Platte, which improved to 8-1 with the win, controlled the first set, but Northwest came out hot in the second set and went ahead 7-2 early on after an ace serve from Kelsey Placke. A Placke kill later in the set helped the Lady Vikings keep a five-point advantage at 14-9 before North Platte rallied.
Nicholson had two kills and Kuenle one to help start a 6-1 run that tied the match at 15-15 when the pair combined on a block. After a kill by Taylor Hageman got Northwest back in front at 16-15, a Nicholson kill, Northwest net violation and Kuenle kill put the Bulldogs up 18-16.
Northwest was able to answer again, however, and tied it at 18-18 on another Hageman kill and block by Taylor Hovie. A service error and net violation on the Lady Vikings followed by two more Kuenle kills and a block from Josie Cox put North Platte back in control en route to a 25-19 win in the second set.
Northwest led 14-13 in the third set, but again Nicholson and Kuenle took over with the pair each having two kills in a 5-1 run that put the Bulldogs up for good at 18-15 as they went on to win the set 25-22.
Kylie Broich led Northwest with eight kills and the junior also had 13 digs and 11 assists. Allie Carlini led Northwest in digs with 19 and Kelsey Bachle added 18.
For North Platte, senior setter Alex Neff had 48 assists – good for a mind-staggering 16-per-set average. Earlier in the day, Neff committed to play for Doane College. Cox, another Nebraska-Kearney recruit, finished the match with six kills.
North Platte travels to Gering on Saturday for a triangular that also includes Alliance. The Bulldogs then host Ogallala – a team they swept the first night of the season – next Tuesday before traveling to Lincoln for the LPS Volleyball Classic next weekend. North Platte could very well have a record of 11-1 entering that tournament, which also includes the three other Class A teams ranked in the top four (Papillion-LaVista South, Omaha Marian and Papillion-LaVista).
Northwest is now off until next Tuesday when it travels to Class A opponent Kearney.
North Platte def. Grand Island Northwest 25-15, 25-19, 25-22
North Platte (8-1) Ranked #3 in Class A
Olivia Nicholson – 15 kills, 2 aces, 2 blocks, 11 digs, 0 assists.
Alex Neff – 3 kills, 0 aces, 0 blocks, 9 digs, 48 assists.
Sami Mauch – 5 kills, 1 ace, 1 1/2 blocks, 11 digs, 2 assists.
Hayley Schanou – 0 kills, 0 aces, 0 blocks, 12 digs, 1 assist.
Josie Cox – 6 kills, 0 aces, 1/2 block, 2 digs, 1 assist.
Madison Raska 3 kills, 0 aces, 2 blocks, 12 digs, 0 assists.
Team Totals – 52 kills, 5 aces, 6 1/2 blocks, 71 digs, 52 assists.
Grand Island Northwest (6-1) Ranked #2 in Class B
Kylie Broich – 8 kills, 0 aces, 3 blocks, 13 digs, 11 assists.
Sierra Holliday – 3 kills, 0 aces, 1/2 block, 1 dig, 0 assists.
Kelsey Placke – 5 kills, 2 aces, 2 blocks, 4 digs, 0 assists.
Allie Carlini – 2 kills, 0 aces, 0 blocks, 19 digs, 0 assists.
Sydney Simmons – 0 kills, 0 aces, 1 block, 0 digs, 1 assist.
Taylor Hovie – 1 kill, 0 aces, 3 1/2 blocks, 1 dig, 1 assist.
Kayla Bachle – 0 kills, 0 aces, 0 blocks, 18 digs, 0 assists.
Taryn Mayfield – 3 kills, 0 aces, 1/2 block, 2 digs, 0 assists.
Taylor Hageman – 5 kills, 0 aces, 2 blocks, 10 digs, 0 assists.
Bailey Parr – 0 kills, 0 aces, 0 blocks, 12 digs, 13 assists.
Team Totals – 27 kills, 2 aces, 12 1/2 blocks, 80 digs, 26 assists.