Sugar and Spike

Lady Cats finish season with a Quarter Final state placement

Cody Bennett, Staff Writer

After a hard fought season for the Lady Cats, Millard West Varsity Girls Volleyball landed 6th seed as they qualified for their 7th consecutive Class A State appearance for another chance to snag their first ever title from 46 other competing schools to come out on top.

The Wildcat season started off very well for the Lady Cats, winning their first six games, sweeping two of the teams 3-0, then going on a couple weeks later, winning 9 of 13 games. The varsity team ran into trouble with two very tough and close losses against Millard North and Elkhorn South. The team, up 2-1 in sets, Millard North came back and win the last 2 sets to take the game. The Lady Cats still held out as we were placed 6th seed in our division as they swept Grand Island in the District finals and qualified for State.

The preparation for State was tough on the girls since they would be playing the best of the best. Senior Ashley Bush felt the pressure of State practice and applied it to her game.

We lifted twice a week and conditioned whenever we didn’t have a game the next day,” Bush said. “Practices were always fast paced and the drills were intense enough to keep us engaged. We worked on running more plays to try and throw off the other team’s offense. We also worked on making everyone as defensively sound as possible.

It was time, the girls go from friendly and harsh practices to rough and sweat on the court with Papillion La-Vista on the court.

“The match was a battle to say the least,” senior Jada Key said. “Everyone on both sides of the net went balls to the wall but unfortunately, the balls didn’t always end in our favor.”

Out of the Cat’s eight losses in the regular season, two of them from Papillion, so the girls were on their heels wanting revenge. The Lady Cats were down one girl, one of arguably the best all around outside hitter, junior Jordan McCormick due to a concussion. Freshman Elise Gilroy took her place and made a name for herself out on the court, having exquisite defense and tons of kills on the court.

The nerves were getting to the girls as they started off hot in the middle of the 1st set, eventually falling to Papillion 18-25.

“Some of us had never been to State before,” Key said.  “We played and nobody wanted to mess up which caused us to get in our heads and not perform at the best of our abilities.”

The second set went much better, the girls loosened up, playing how we normally see our Cats, rock hard defense and even harder spikes and kills. But Papillion still coming out on top for the second set and making it do or die for the Cats.

The third set sealed the deal, Papillion picked off our backline and the middle of the court, which made the girls second guess who is getting what. Falling to Papillion 25-27 in the final set.

“This season was one that I know that my senior class will never forget,” Key said. “It may not have ended like we had hoped but the team will grow and take state on again next year, I’m sure of it.”

The Lady Cats lose five of their senior starters and pave the way for the younger Cats to take the throne.

We wish our five amazing seniors the best of luck in their future academic and athletic careers.”  head coach Joe Wessel said. “This group was amazing in leadership and establishing the importance of family.  They will be hard to replace.”

Wessell made his very first year special, snagged a District title and a quarterfinal State placement.

I am very proud of this team,” Wessel said. “Not only were we successful with a 24-8 record, a District Championship, and 7th Consecutive trip to the State Tournament, but we grew as a team and as a family.”

Although having a short run at State, the Cats hold the District Championship for the season.

Hosting a district tournament is an honor and the girls played some of their best volleyball on this night,” Loofe said. “This is a program on the rise and will be a contender next fall.”

Photo by Holley Rooney
Lady Cats up on the net ready for the block

Bush, Key, senior Sydney Daniels, seniors Maggie and MacKenzie Sempeck finished their last season as Wildcats, reaching the semi-finals three times in four years, as Wessel continues to work with his girls, with a District Championship and first year under his belt.