Wildcats rebound against Crusaders

Millard West shakes off rocky stretch to best Marian


Photo by David Rochford

Coach Joe Wessel talks with his team after dropping a competitive third set. The Wildcats controlled much of the early part of the set while Marian seemed to turn it up as the set winded down and pulled away from Millard West, before the fourth set began the Wildcats discussed things that needed to be better. “During the break, we talked about how we need to stick to our game plan better and have our middle blockers get up quicker with their middles and make them hit to left back,” senior Ella Hazen said. “I think we adjusted to those changes and had a lot of energy and success on the court in set four.”

Joseph Ebmeier, Staff Reporter

As the Millard West Varsity Volleyball team walked into Wildcat 1 on Tuesday, Sept. 27, they were starting to slip as the season neared a close. The Wildcats had lost their previous two matches in a row which doubled their total number of losses on the season. After back to back losses to Papillion South and Lincoln Southwest their record dropped to 18-4. The Marian Crusaders entered the game with a less impressive record of 10-12 and were heavy underdogs in this game.

Being the underdog seemed not to affect the Crusaders. In the first set, they quickly escaped to a 5-1 lead over the Wildcats who looked flustered early. Millard West seemed to settle down though, and they worked the score back to 7-7. The Wildcats then went on a run of their own and clawed out a 15-11 lead, causing Marian to take a timeout. The timeout didn’t seem to help Marian though, as the Wildcats scored the first three points coming out of the timeout. The teams went back and forth for the rest of the set which ended with a Wildcat victory, 25-17.

The second set started the same way the first set ended. The teams went back and forth and the score was tied at 6-6. Marian then seemed to gain some momentum as they scored the next four points making the score 10-6. With Millard West trailing 12-8, they took a timeout. The timeout proved beneficial for Millard West as they changed momentum and took the lead 17-15. The swing in momentum rattled Marian causing them to take a timeout as well. The timeout ended Millard West’s momentum as Marian soon tied the score at 18-18 which caused Millard West to take another timeout. Following this timeout the teams went back and forth throughout the rest of the set before the Wildcats scored the final two points to win it 26-24.

“In the Metro Conference every game is going to be a battle,” head coach Joe Wessel said. “We knew we were going to have to play our best to beat them.  With six senior leaders we showed a lot of maturity in grabbing that set and not getting frazzled.”

Millard West entered the third set looking to sweep. They started off strong and quickly got out to a 5-2 lead, which was quickly eliminated however as Marian went on a huge run. The Crusaders gained the lead 10-6, which caused the Wildcats to take a timeout. Coming out of the timeout, Millard West clawed their way back and tied the game at 13-13. Marian then took the momentum and stretched out a 20-16 lead which caused Millard West to use their second timeout. Coming out of the timeout, the teams went back and forth before Marian took a timeout with a lead of 21-18. Following this, Marian seemed to flip a switch, and they pulled away to win the set 25-20.

“I think we were letting them dictate some of the set,” senior Ella Hazen said. “Marian’s middle hitters were a big factor on their team and I think our block wasn’t adjusting to them fast enough so our defense wasn’t able to read through our block quickly enough to react to the ball.”

The match went to the fourth set with the Wildcats still looking to end the match. Millard West escaped to a quick 4-1 lead and maintained a narrow lead until the score was 10-6, at which Marian took a timeout. The timeout did not change this, as the Wildcats continued to hold a small lead, and they took a timeout with an 18-17 lead. After the break, Millard West scored two quick points, forcing Marian to burn its final timeout. However, the timeout did not stop the Wildcats momentum as they went on a 7-2 scoring run and won the set 25-19, ending the match.

“We only have four home matches this season,” Wessel said. “We tell the athletes that while at home to take advantage of our great crowd and pride in playing on the MW floor.”

The standout player for the Wildcats was senior Sadie Millard. Millard played all four sets and 15 kills throughout the game, giving her a 3.8 kills per set average. She also had an ace on one of her 16 serves, and totaled 14 digs throughout the game.

The win gave the Wildcats their 19th on the season as the season nears a close. The Wildcats also beat Lincoln Southwest on Thursday to give them a total of 20 wins on the season. However, Millard West dropped a match to the number one team in the state, Papillion La-Vista South, a loss that kept Millard West the second rated team in the state.