Posted On: 11/10/16 2:34 AM

Since beating Sterling in the first round of the 2003 state tournament, Potter-Dix has lost five straight state tournament matches.

During its 32 regular-season matches, Potter-Dix did not play anyone that made the state tournament. Potter-Dix has not played a Tier 1 team since Sept. 10, but did beat a pair of them that day in Hemingford and Mitchell. Every team Potter-Dix will/might face at state is a Tier 1 team.

In its three matches against Tier 1 teams this year, Potter-Dix has a set record of 4-4. Against everyone else the Coyotes are 68-1.

As a co-op between Chambers and Wheeler Central, CWC has been to the state tournament twice and has yet to win a match.

CWC has been one of the hottest teams in Class D-2 as of late, winning 13 straight before falling 3-2 in the subdistrict finals against O’Neill St. Mary’s.

None of Hampton’s four wins at the state tournament in the rally-scoring era have been sweeps. Hampton has swept 31 of its 32 matches this year.

A big key to Hampton’s success in their ability to immediately take other teams out of system with their big serves. The Hawks average more than 10 ace serves per match.

Red Cloud is making its first appearance at the state tournament this year.

Red Cloud has won 18 of its last 19 matches with its only loss in that stretch coming 2-1 to Class D-1 #2 Meridian. The Warriors are 12-0 this year against fellow Class D-2 schools.

Exeter-Milligan has won its last six first-round matches at state, dropping just a combined two sets in those matches. All-time the Timberwolves are 17-5 at state.

This will be Brady’s seventh trip to the state tournament and it is 4-6 all-time at state, but 0-3 in its last three matches.

Wynot is making its sixth trip to state and is 1-5 all-time. The Blue Devils have not won a match at state since 1984.

O’Neill St. Mary’s is making its fifth-straight state tournament appearance this week, but prior to this steak the Cardinals went 33 straight years without making state.

Predictions

Quarterfinals

CWC over Potter-Dix
Hampton over Red Cloud
Exeter-Milligan over Brady
O’Neill St. Mary’s over Wynot

Semifinals

Hampton over CWC
Exeter-Milligan over O’Neill St. Mary’s

Championship

Hampton over Exeter-Milligan

Final Thoughts 

Will anything prevent a third match between Hampton and Exeter-Milligan at 9 a.m. on Saturday to determine the Class D-2 state champion? Probably not. The two teams have distanced themselves from the back over the course of the season and have seemed headed on a collision course all year. Exeter-Milligan is the defending state champion, and something special always seems to kick in at state for defending champs, but the Timberwolves face an uphill battle.

Brady and 6-foot-1 stud Tara Callahan will be tough for Exeter-Milligan to deal with in the first round. Exeter-Milligan can give Brady troubles and keep them out of system, but the Wolves have no answer for Callahan. Facing either Wynot or O’Neill St. Mary’s – the team Exeter-Milligan beat in the finals last year – is no easy semifinal task for the Wolves either. Meanwhile, Red Cloud’s great duo of Mary and Morgan Nibbe will present plenty of issues for the Hawks, but ultimately the Warriors simply don’t have the depth to handle Hampton’s aggressive serve on a consistent enough basis to stay in system and maximize their advantage at the net. Hampton’s potential semifinal match won’t be nearly as challenging as Exeter-Milligan’s either.

Madison VanHousen is one of the state’s best seniors and I simply don’t think the Hawks will be stopped this weekend. If Hampton limits unforced errors, it will be the Hawks hoisting the trophy this year.