It was hard for players to contain their excitement after being presented the championship SPVA tournament trophy. Players and coaches on the 2017 championship team include, front from left, Kora Weiss, Kamrie Dillan, Allison Owings, Ragan Nickless, Peyton Fiedler, Adelaide Maxwell, Riley Owens, manager Tristan Nordhausen, back from left, Head Coach Jodie Schuller, manager Landree McNair, Coach Nichole Spady, Keiry Flores Frescas, Yamilet Kenner, Sydney Schilke, Madison Schuller, Ashley Bubak, Alexis Richmond, Mallie McNair, Sophie Spady, Coach Alex Schilke, Coach Kristi McNair and Chloe Soltis. Not pictured—manager Chloe Dillan. (Johnson Publications photo)

After an error on St. Pat’s side, the Lady Longhorns erupt with celebration after securing match point in the finals. (Johnson Publications photo)

Chase County serves upsets en route to SPVA championship

    Upset was the word of the day for the Chase County volleyball team, as it toppled three higher seeded teams to claim the SPVA Conference championship.
    The SPVA bracket had Chase County seeded the No. 5 team in the seven-team tournament played in Ogallala Saturday.
    En route to the championship, the Lady Longhorns first took down No. 4 Sutherland, followed by No. 1 Bridgeport, then capped the day with the defeat of No. 2 North Platte St. Pat’s in the finals.
    All of Chase County’s matches went three games.
    Coach Jodie Schuller said it was a great day for Chase County volleyball.
    “The girls really fought for it. Hats off to them. I give the girls and assistant coaches all the credit,” Schuller said.
    She doubts any other Chase County team she’s coached in more than 20 years at CCS has defied a No. 5 seed to win the conference title.
    “They really wanted it. It was so neat to see how they all worked together and fought so hard,” she added.
    “They didn’t give up. It’s the hardest I’ve seen them play all season,” she said.
    Schuller believes there were three keys to their 3-0 showing at the tournament—good serving (especially in the finals), support from the bench and their success at hitting.
    “We kept swinging at them (St. Pat’s) and didn’t tip much,” she said.
    Scores in the championship match were close, 25-23, 26-28 and 25-22.
    After squeaking out the first set win, 25-23, it looked like Chase County could take the match in two as they went up 9-3 in the second game.
    But after tying it 9-9 and again 12-12, the Lady Irish never trailed until the teams were knotted again 24-24, then again at 25 and 26. A St. Pat’s kill followed by a long kill attempt by Nickless gave St. Pat’s the 28-26 advantage.
    The momentum for St. Pat’s carried into game three, as they went up early and never trailed until Chase County tied it at 16. After three more ties at 18, 19 and 22, St. Pat’s would not score again as a kill attempt sailed out-of-bounds, Fiedler scored her ace serve and a poor St. Pat’s pass sent the ball out, ending the game, 25-22.
    Chase County’s defeat of St. Pat’s Saturday came just 11 days after Chase County lost to the Lady Irish in a triangular.        While Chase County’s hitting stats against the Lady Irish weren’t where Schuller likes them to be, the .078 hitting efficiency was much better than the -.058 turned in by St. Pat’s in the finals.
    En route to those marks, each team committed 15 hitting errors.
    As she did all day, Ragan Nickless led the Lady Longhorns at the net with nine of her team’s 23 kills against St. Pat’s.    
    Madison Schuller (17) and Sophie Spady (10) combined for 27 set assists in the match.
    Chase County missed just two serves in the finals (71-73), and finished with a 97 percent showing at the line. Three aces were recorded by Ashley Bubak, Peyton Fiedler and Madison Schuller.
    Defensively, Schuller and Mallie McNair each had 12 of the team’s 59 digs, while Fiedler picked up 11.
    Schuller said it’s been a process this season, and the team continues to show improvement.
    “And that’s a great sign,” she said. “But, now it’s back to work.”
    She wants the girls to savor the memories of the SPVA championship, but noted the rest of the season won’t be easy.

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