Interview with Elkhorn South coach Briana Ritter.
Interview with Elkhorn South senior Kelsey Green.
GRETNA – It was literally an epic battle for the records books Thursday night as Class B #1 Gretna took on #5 Elkhorn South in the championship match of the Eastern Midlands Conference Tournament.
Ali Clark, Kelsey Green and Sarah Swanson keyed a late Elkhorn South surge in the fifth set to lead the Storm to a 25-23, 27-25, 22-25, 17-25, 15-12 victory over previously unbeaten Gretna. In the loss, Gretna junior setter Cameron Scott dished out 73 assists, which established a new Class B and state record.
With the final set tied at 10-10, Green delivered an ace serve to put Elkhorn South (20-8) up 11-10 on Gretna (26-1). Clark followed with a kill and Swanson added a solo block to make it 13-10 Storm. A hitting error gave Gretna the serve back and made it 13-11, but Swanson – a TCU recruit – pounded a quick set in the middle to make it 14-11.
A kill by the Dragons’ Jaisa Russell allowed Gretna to fight off one match point, but Clark ended it with her ninth kill of the night and gave the Storm the conference tournament title.
In totality, it was the kind of match you would expect for the championship of one of the premier volleyball conferences in the state. Most of the match there was a minimum of five Division I recruits on the floor as well as a bevy of talented underclassmen as the two teams repeatedly slugged away at each other.
In the first set, Elkhorn South used a quick 5-0 spurt midway through the set to take a 17-13 lead and maintained that advantage in getting to a 24-20 lead on a service error by the Dragons. A kill by Wyoming recruit Halie McArdle, followed by an Elkhorn South hitting error and ace serve from Scott got the Dragons within 24-23. Elkhorn South took the first set, however, when a Gretna attack just missed the corner, giving the Storm an early 1-0 advantage.
In the second set, it was tight all the way down the stretch, as the teams were tied at 21-21, 22-22, 23-23, 24-24, 25-25 with each team letting a set point get away before the Storm was able to score the final three points of the set for a 27-25 win.
The third set played out much the same way with the teams being tied at 17-17, 18-18, 19-19, 20-20, and 22-22 before a Russell kill, Storm hitting error and Mallory Yost kill gave Gretna a 25-22 win. The Dragons were able to control the fourth set by outscoring Elkhorn South 12-5 down the stretch to force the fifth set.
Swanson finished with a match-high 29 kills for Elkhorn South while Green added 19 kills and 21 digs and Clark and Gabrielle Peterson had nine kills apiece. Josie Givens had 61 assists and 19 digs. Northern Kentucky libero recruit Jaden Thiem had 31 digs and Riley Newton added 28 for the Storm.
For Gretna, Scott finished with the state-record 73 assists and also had two kills and two ace serves. McArdle finished with 25 kills for the Dragons while Russell and Yost each had 19 and Jaiden Sila had eight.