Posted On: 10/4/15 2:54 AM

Interview with Omaha Marian coach Amy McLeay:

LINCOLN – Omaha Marian may have won the past two Class A state championships, but in neither of those years have the Crusaders entered postseason play as “the team to beat.”

While the Class A postseason does not start until a month from tomorrow, Omaha Marian made it clear at the Lincoln Northeast Invitational this weekend that the Crusaders will likely be “the team to beat” when that time comes.

Top-ranked Marian improved to 21-3 on the season by going 6-0 at the Lincoln Northeast Invitational, including a 27-25, 25-13 win over #2 North Platte in the championship match. The win was the 17th in a row for Marian, and the Crusaders have not dropped a single set during that stretch.

After cruising to straight-set wins over Fremont, Lincoln Northeast and Lincoln Southeast in pool play on Friday, Marian opened Saturday’s bracket play with a 25-12, 25-12 win over Lincoln Pius X in the quarterfinals and then beat Elkhorn South 25-17, 25-15 in the semifinals.

In the championship match against North Platte, it took some late heroics by Marian to win the first set and keep its consecutive sets won streak alive. Marian initially got out to a 12-3 lead on a kill by freshman Emily Bressman and later took a 19-11 lead on a kill by Elizabeth Loschen.

North Platte, 22-3, then went on a 9-1 run and tied the score at 20-20 on a kill by Josie Cox and the Bulldogs later took a 23-22 lead on an ace serve from Allison Kuenle. A gutsy and brilliantly executed setter dump by Marian senior Maren McGuire tied the set at 23-23 and Loschen added a kill of her own to give the Crusaders set point at 24-23.

North Platte fought off two set points, but Marian captured the set at 27-25 when Bressman and Loschen each got tip kills to fall.

The second set started off competitive, but Marian extended a 6-5 lead to 16-6 with a 10-1 run that appeared to knock the wind out of North Platte with each point en route to a 25-13 win.

Loschen led the Crusaders with eight kills while Sophia Terwilleger added seven and Bressman and Elise Duryea each had six. McGuire finished with 26 assists and Brittany Witt led the team with 14 digs.