Posted On: 07/30/21 12:06 PM
The high school season is drawing ever closer. Our previews are about to ramp up.
Some of you diehards may remember the first time I looked at tournament teams that were ready to make a move for the state championship. Today, the "unfinished business" series returns.
I’ll be going class by class and breaking down teams that made the tournament last season but fell just short of winning it all. The squads featured on this series are reloading. They’re ready to hoist the trophy this time.
Let’s kick things off with Class A!
Papillion-La Vista South
Truthfully, it didn’t require much effort to make this choice.
Papio South’s past success is well documented. Last year’s tournament run for the Titans ended in the championship match with a loss to red hot Elkhorn South. This team might go one step further in 2021.
I’ve recently talked about Papio South’s steady group of rising seniors, including Ava LeGrand Ava LeGrand 5'11" | S Papillion-LaVista South | 2022 State NE , Harlei Cole Harlei Cole 5'6" | DS/L Papillion-La Vista South | 2022 State NE , and Emma O’Neill Emma O’Neill 6'0" | MB Papillion-LaVista South | 2022 State NE . Add to that the dynamic left-side duo of Stella Adeyemi Stella Adeyemi 5'9" | OH Papillion-LaVista South | 2023 State NE and Medeck[/caption] I’ve recently talked about Papio South’s steady group of rising seniors, including Ava LeGrand Ava LeGrand 5'11" | S Papillion-LaVista South | 2022 State NE , Harlei Cole Harlei Cole 5'6" | DS/L Papillion-La Vista South | 2022 State NE , and Emma O’Neill Emma O’Neill 6'0" | MB Papillion-LaVista South | 2022 State NE . Add to that the dynamic left-side duo of Stella Adeyemi Stella Adeyemi 5'9" | OH Papillion-LaVista South | 2023 State NE and Lauren Medeck Lauren Medeck 5'8" | OH Papillion-LaVista South | 2024 State NE , and you’ve already got a very formidable bunch. The Titans will have to deal with the loss of a few backcourt stalwarts in Kynley Sis Kynley Sis 5'8" | DS/L Papillion-La Vista South | 2021 NE , Delanie Vallinch Delanie Vallinch 5'7" | DS/L Papillion-LaVista South | 2021 State NE , and Andjelija Petrovic Andjelija Petrovic 5'5" | MB Papillion-LaVista South | 2021 NE . Fortunately, the arrival of Makenzie Dyrstad Makenzie Dyrstad 5'7" | DS/L Papillion LaVista South | 2023 State NE should lead to a seamless transition of defensive talent. Papio South can have big goals heading into this season. They might make the case for being the best team in the whole state. Millard West Millard West is another fairly easy choice for this feature. Though they’ll have some new faces in 2021, their championship aspirations remain the same as last season. After making the Class A semifinals in 2020, the Wildcats are looking for more. You can get the full scoop on Millard West’s new faces here. The moral of that story is that the Wildcats are picking up some impact players that could really influence the balance of power in Class A. There’s a lot to like about what Millard West has coming back, too. Ella Hazen Ella Hazen 5'8" | DS/L Millard West | 2022 State NE provides excellent ball control and can even score in the front row. Maddie MacTaggart Maddie MacTaggart 5'10" | OH Millard South | 2022 State NE should be as sharp as ever from the pin alongside sophomore Lauren Jones Lauren Jones 5'9" | OH Millard West | 2024 State NE . This team even has a six-rotation middle blocker in Sadie Millard Sadie Millard 5'9" | MB Millard West | 2022 State NE . It’s a thrilling bunch. This feature is defined by teams ready to take the next step, and I think Millard West embodies that well. Lincoln Southwest Let’s address the looming history here: a Lincoln team has not won a Class A volleyball title since Northeast in 1998. Back then, we had sideout scoring, and I was a couple of months short of being born. So, it’s been a while. Maybe the Silver Hawks can be the ones to buck the trend. Southwest had a great showing in the 2020 regular season that included a win over an Omaha Skutt juggernaut. After earning a five seed in last year’s tournament, the Silver Hawks fell in the opener against Papillion-La Vista to finish the season 21-10. I’ve talked about the pin-hitting prowess of this team before. You simply cannot count out the senior outside hitter tandem of Shaylee Myers Shaylee Myers 6'0" | OH Lincoln Southwest | 2022 State NE and Courtney Holsteen Courtney Holsteen 6'0" | RS Lincoln Southwest | 2022 State NE in any given match. They know how to take over. Senior middle blocker Alexis Gates Alexis Gates 6'0" | MB Lincoln Southeast | 2022 State NE makes the move over from Southeast and hopes she can recover from injury in time for season’s end. The Silver Hawks will have to replace a bit of production in their backcourt defense, but this team’s pin hitters will be willing to pick up the slack. Brinly Christensen Brinly Christensen 5'10" | OH Lincoln Southwest | 2023 State NE is not afraid to do some defensive work, and Karli Symonsbergen Karli Symonsbergen 5'7" | S Lincoln Southwest | 2022 State NE can dig plenty of heat from the setter spot. Lincoln Southwest will try its best to not only represent itself well, but also carry the capital city’s torch, too.