Sweeping through Districts

Varsity volleyball competes in postseason play


Photo Courtesy of Millard West Volleyball Twitter

The varsity volleyball team poses for a picture with the district championship trophy after their sweep of Millard North. The Wildcats swept their way through Districts, advancing to the state tournament. “I am a bit nervous for state, but my mindset going in is to just have fun,” senior Sadie Millard said. “It’s my last time playing volleyball for Millard West and is going to be the end of my volleyball career overall, so no matter the outcome I want to have the time of my life on the court.”

Camille O'Neill, Sports Director

The Millard West varsity volleyball team started off postseason play in the A-2 District semi-finals vs. Omaha North on Oct. 26, and they looked to earn another berth to the state tournament.

The Wildcats started the game on a 6-0 scoring run behind the serve of senior Sadie Millard. Millard West would extend their lead to 11-2, thanks to aces by senior Lulu Ahl and junior Alanna Bankston, prompting an Omaha North timeout. After the timeout, Millard West would go on a 9-4 run to extend their lead to as many as 16 points at 20-4. Blocks by Millard and sophomore Lauren Jones were key in the run. An ace by senior Ella Hazen and a kill by Jones helped Millard West close out the first set, 25-5. 

Millard West started off the second set similar to the first, going on a 5-0 run sparked by two aces from junor Skylar Walters. Attack errors by both teams on the ensuing points kept the score within five at 8-3. The Wildcats went on a 7-2 run to extend their lead to 15-5. Millard West kept momentum throughout the rest of the set. Thanks to multiple aces by Walters and Hazen and a kill by Millard, the Wildcats took a 21-5 lead, their largest advantage of the set. A kill by sophomore Evan Glade closed out the set for the Wildcats at 25-5.

“In the District matches, I did well communicating to my hitters on the court and spreading my offense,” Walters said. “The team all around played as a team and did well building each other up and continuing to be positive while staying disciplined in the little things.”

Omaha North came out firing quickly in the third set, taking their first lead of the night at 2-0. Millard West fought back to tie the set up at 3-all. Omaha North would score three straight points to tie their largest lead of the night at 6-3. The Wildcats scored seven straight points fueled by an ace by senior Sidney Linder to go up 11-6, prompting an Omaha North timeout. Fueled by the serve of Linder, the Wildcats jumped out to a 17-6 lead, causing Omaha North to take its final charged timeout of the set. Behind the hot serving of senior Lulu Ahl, Millard West closed out the set at 25-9 and swept Omaha North to move on to the district title game. 

“Our mindset going into the district championship was that we didn’t want to underestimate anybody and make sure we played our own game.” Linder said. “We didn’t want to play down to our opponent’s level.”

The Wildcats faced Millard North one day later in the A-2 District title game with a trip to the state tournament on the line. 

A net violation by Millard West secured the first point of the match for Millard North, but a block and kill by Bankston put the Wildcats up 2-1. Two kills by senior Maddie McTaggert sparked a 3-0 Wildcat run to make it 6-3. The Mustangs fought back with a 3-0 run of their own to tie the score. Millard North took their first lead of the night on an attack error. Millard West took their largest lead of the night thus far at 13-8, causing a Millard North timeout. After the timeout, Millard West went on a 7-0 run to take a 20-8 advantage. A Jones kill and two Millard aces helped close out the first set for the Wildcats, 25-10.

The second set started off in a similar way to the first as Millard North took a 1-0 lead. The teams would go back and forth, and Millard North took a three point lead at 6-3. Millard West fought back within one at 8-7, and a kill by Jones tied the score at 8 apiece. The third set would continue to go back and forth. With Millard West down 17-16, a net violation by Millard North tied the score at 17. Millard West took their first lead of the set on a hitting error by the Mustangs. Millard West went on a 6-1 run capped by a Bankston kill to go ahead 23-18. A hitting error by Millard North closed out the second set for the Wildcats, 25-19.

Millard West starts out the third set very hot, going on a 13-2 run, causing a Millard North timeout. After the timeout, Millard North scored two straight points to make it 13-4. After trading points, Millard gets a big block to put the Wildcats up ten points, 16-6. The teams continued to trade points until Millard North went on a 3-0 mini run to put themselves within seven at 21-14. After the teams traded service errors, Millard West was able to close out the sweep, 25-16. 

“I was very impressed with our next ball mentality and the ability to stay calm on our side of the net and create chaos for the opposing teams,” head coach Joe Wessel said. “Each team we potentially face at the state tournament requires a different focus and discipline. Right now we are focusing on what we need to do to be successful against our first opponent.”

Millard West advances to the state tournament, where they will play Papillion-La Vista on Wednesday, Nov. 3 at Pinnacle Bank Arena.