Posted On: 10/5/16 4:35 AM

OMAHA – Sometimes it takes Papillion-LaVista’s multi-faceted, fast-paced offense a while to warm-up, and fortunately for the Monarchs it happened just in time Tuesday night at Millard North.

Papillion-LaVista, ranked #2 in Class A, hit its stride midway through the fourth set and never looked back in downing #4 Millard North 21-25, 25-19, 20-25, 25-17, 15-7. The win moved the Monarchs to 20-2 on the season while Millard North dropped to 16-7.

The Mustangs actually held a 10-8 lead at one point in the fourth set over Papillion-LaVista before the Monarchs scored 12 unanswered points to take a commanding 20-10 lead en route to a 25-17 victory in the set. A quick 6-0 lead in the fifth set established the tone in Papillion-LaVista closing out the win 15-7.

Monarchs’ coach Kristen Lebeda-Svehla said passing is the key to setting up their offense and it took a while for that to get that going to ignite the Papillion-LaVista attack.

“Passing kicked in in game three and finally our hitters got hot and started hitting zones and getting in faster,” she said. “A lot of things happened in games four and five that didn’t happen earlier. We have not been a good starting team. We’ve been a better finishing team.”

Papillion-LaVista’s supreme finisher Tuesday night was Creighton recruit Steph Gaston who pounded three kills right out of the gate in the fifth set to help the Monarchs take a 6-0 lead. She finished with five kills in the set and a team-high 15 for the night.

“Papio played a great match. Steph Gaston ate us up and spit us out in the fifth set.” Millard North coach Lindsey Peterson said. “In first and third sets, it came down to unforced errors. We weren’t making as many unforced errors. Because we weren’t making those errors we were able to limit (Gaston) because our block is big on that side.”

Millard North did stymie Gaston to a certain extent early on in the match with its block, led by Iowa recruit Emma Grunkemeyer’s seven blocks and two each from McKenna Ruch and Emmy Grant.

Ruch, a 6-foot-1 freshman, also had a team-high 15 kills for the Mustangs while the 6-2 sophomore Grunkemeyer had 10. Elise Baumann, a Hastings College recruit, finished the match 11 kills, 15 digs and three aces serves.

“They have a huge front row,” Lebeda-Svehla said of the Mustangs. “They put up a big block. When they get hot, they are unstoppable at times.”

Class A #2 Papillion-LaVista def. #4 Millard North 21-25, 25-19, 20-25, 25-17, 15-7

Papillion-LaVista (20-2)
Kills/Aces/Blocks

Steph Gaston 15-0-0.5; Megan Helmberger 0-0-0; Ally Glaser 10-0-1.5; Chloe Paschal 9-1-1; Carly Lindenmeyer 0-0-0; Kenzie Michalek 0-2-0; Mary Martincik 13-0-2.5; Prusha 0-5-0.5; Maddie Krajewski 1-0-0; Sydney Fitzgibbons 14-0-2.

Millard North (16-7)
Kills/Aces/Blocks

Madison Johnson 10-2-0; Elle Olson 1-1-0; Emma Grunkemeyer 10-0-7; Paige Holdsworth 0-0-0; Izzy Lukens 3-0-0; McKenna Ruch 15-0-2; Mallory Stamm 0-0-0; Emmy Grant 5-0-2; Elise Baumann 11-3-0; Madison Evans 0-0-0; Megan Hanson 0-1-0.

Assists: Papillion-LaVista 62 (Prusha 55, Michalek 5, Krajewski 2), Millard North 53 (Lukens 49, Johnson 2, Ruch 1, Evans 1). Digs: Papillion-LaVista 108 (Krajewski 33, Michalek 28, Prusha 21, Paschal 9, Glaser 5, Gaston 3, Helmberger 2, Fitzgibbons 2), Millard North 84 (Evans 32, Baumann 15, Lukens 13, Stamm 12, Johnson 6, Hanson 4, Olson 1, Ruch 1).