LINCOLN — Mullen’s quarterfinal victory on Thursday marked their first in school history, but the Broncos’ sights on a Class D2 state title will have to wait.
The No. 3 Broncos (28-4) suffered defeat at the hands of the second-seeded Bruning-Davenport/Shickley Eagles (29-4), whose offensive attack soared for 34 kills in a three-set sweep — 25-13, 25-17, 25-18 — in Friday’s semifinal at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
"They’re a hard hitting team, and we just didn’t adjust well with our block," Broncos head coach Belinda Coble said. "We weren’t set or ready on defense when they hit the ball, so that really got to us."
Mullen finished with 25 digs and nine blocks on defense, losing the battle of 50-50 balls, and unable to slow down BDS’ Jadyn Kleinschmidt, who had a game-high 18 kills and 20 digs.
"We just couldn’t catch a break with little things like those close-net calls that got our players frustrated," Coble said. "It doesn’t change the outcome of the game, but it killed the momentum going forward."
The outcome of the game, however, was determined in one specific area for the Broncos — errors.
Mullen, much like in Thursday’s opening round, was riddled with self-inflicted mistakes, which accounted for over 23 points in BDS’ favor.
Pinpointing Mullen’s reason for committing that many errors, an unusual amount for a savvy mixture of upper and underclassmen, prompted a few ideas.
"You’d like to blame it on that, but we were here with plenty of time to adjust, despite it being a bigger stage," Coble said. "I think they just made mental errors and we need to get those fixed."
Those mental errors slammed the breaks on a few glimpses of offensive productivity by the Lady Broncos, who collected a few lengthy runs to tie sets and often took slim leads throughout.
However, the 50-50 balls proved costly.
"It doesn’t change the outcome of the game, but it killed the momentum going forward," Coble said.
The Broncos will need to sway that momentum back on their side, where it could spell a third-place prize on Saturday against Wynot, who lost to top-seeded Ewing on Friday.
"This is the farthest we’ve ever come," Coble said. "They need to take that honor and not hang their heads after losing in the semifinals. After winning that first set last night, I told them not to be satisfied."
Coble hopes the dissatisfaction will propel her team to victory.
"When we make good passes and get the ball up high, we make good things happen," Coble said. "Hopefully (Saturday) we can shoot for third because that’s a heck of a lot better than fourth."
Saturday’s third-place game will begin at 11 a.m. at Lincoln Northeast.
Set 1: BDS jumped out to a 10-5 lead, extended it by as many as 10 at 18-8, capitalizing on seven Mullen errors. As a result, the Eagles ended the set on a 14-6 run to win, 25-13.
Set 2: BDS again started fast, taking an 8-4 lead to start the second set, but Mullen answered with a 4-1 run to trim it down to one, 9-8. BDS pushed the lead back up to five, 15-10, the largest of the set. From there, the Eagles outscored Mullen 10-7 to win, 25-17, and take a 2-0 match lead.
Set 3: Looking for the sweep, BDS jumped ahead 4-1. Mullen answered with a 6-1 run to take a 6-5 lead. BDS then capitalized on three errors by the Broncos, fueling a 7-3 run to take a 13-9 lead. The Eagles extended that lead by as many as eight, closing the door on Mullen to complete a 25-18 set win and 3-0 sweep.
BDS (29-4) 25 25 25—3
Mullen (28-4) 13 17 18—0
BDS (kills-aces-blocks): Jadyn Kleinschmidt 18-2-1, Mariah Silva 1-0-0, Sera Johnson 0-0-3, Jennifer Holtzen 0-1-0, Caitlin Mosier 0-0-1, Emilie Schardt 0-1-0, Macy Kamler 10-3-0, Jordan Bolte 1-0-1, Regan Alfs 4-0-2. Totals 34-7-8.
M (kills-aces-blocks): Lindey Coble 1-0-0, Alysen Daniels 10-0-0, Kaitlyn Crowe 3-0-0, Taylor Svoboda 0-0-1, Samantha Moore 4-3-0, Brooke McCully 2-1-0, Haley Jones 3-1-1, Hannan Marshall 0-1-0, Courtney Rice 3-3-1. Totals 26-9-3.
Set assists: BDS 32 (Alfs 18, Bolte 13, Kamler 1), M 22 (H.Jones 16, Coble 1, Chasek 1, Licking 1, Crowe 1, M.Jones 1, Rice 1).