LINCOLN — Broken Bow snapped a 19 year state tournament drought with a convincing opening-round win on Thursday.
After a slow start and opening-set loss to Wayne, the Lady Indians turned to an aggressive and efficient attack at the net to dismantle the Blue Devils in four sets (22-25, 25-20, 25-8, 25-18) at Lincoln North Star High School.
"I think we just had to get some of our jitters out, because the girls had never been in a situation like this in a state tournament," Broken Bow head coach Skylar Morris said. "Once we calmed down, we started seeing what they were doing and you can kind of see that turnover toward the end of that first set, and it carried over the rest of the way."
After dropping the first set, 25-22, the Lady Indians’ aggressive attack preyed on Wayne’s blocking, which surrendered over 40 combined kills in the second, third and fourth sets, solidifying Broken Bow’s 3-1 victory.
"We had that momentum coming off that second set," Morris said. "We were able to see what was working against their defense. We saw that they weren’t getting up a very good block up on us, so we were able to really dominate that."
Broken Bow (33-2) turned to senior outside hitter Majesta Valasek, who finished with a team-high 24 kills, while adding 23 digs and two set assists against the Blue Devils (29-6).
"She was huge for us," Morris said. "She didn’t have very much in that first set, but once she got her jitters out and we got her going with some big hits then she was very dominant."
Valasek, who continues to serve as an offensive catalyst in Broken Bow’s ongoing 25-game win streak highlighted by a sweep over defending champion Wahoo on Sept. 21, led the charge in turning the tables against the Blue Devils.
Valasek posted set-highs with eight and seven kills, respectively, in Broken Bow’s 25-20, 25-8 second and third set wins.
With the win over fourth-seeded Wayne, fifth-seeded Broken Bow punches its ticket to a semifinal matchup against top-seeded St. Paul, who previously swept Broken Bow 2-0 at the Lexington Invite on Sept. 7.
The Wildcats remain undefeated at 34-0 without losing a single set, which continued in a 3-0 sweep over Battle Creek in the opening round on Thursday.
Set 1: After taking the lead first, the Indians committed five errors and found themselves on the opposite end of a 4-0 run. Broken Bow trimmed their deficit to two, but another run by Wayne extended their lead by as many as six (16-10).
The Indians cut the deficit back to two points at 24-22, relying on Valasek’s six kills, but couldn’t overcome Wayne, which held on for a 25-22 opening set win.
Set 2: Broken Bow started the second set with the lead again. The Indians gave up a one-point lead three times before a spurt solidified the second set’s outcome. Broken Bow outscored the Blue Devils 18-11 to take the second set, 25-20, and equalize the match at 1-1.
Set 3: Wayne struggled stopping the Indians’ attack at the net to start the third set, taking a backseat to a Broken Bow 10-2 rally paved by five straight kills from Valasek. Broken Bow rode their aggressive approach at the net into a 25-8 win in which they could do no wrong — committing no errors.
Set 4: With a 2-1 lead and possible chance to knock off Wayne, the Indians wasted little time in the fourth set. Broken Bow took a four-point lead early, maintaining such cushion to clinch the 25-18 set win.