Wynot will play for state title
LINCOLN -- For the first time in school history, Wynot will be making a trip to the Class D2 state volleyball finals, after Friday’s 18-25, 25-22, 25-21, 15-25, 16-14 semifinal victory over defending state champion Exeter-Milligan.
Cortney Arkfeld had a match-high 21 kills to go with 16 digs and five ace blocks and Skylar Arkfeld added 13 kills, 19 digs and four ace blocks for Wynot (27-4).
The Blue Devils survived a back and forth match, their second straight five-set state tournament match, and will face top-ranked Hampton (34-0) in Saturday’s 9 a.m. title match at the Devaney Sports Center.
In the first set, Exeter-Milligan took the lead at 7-6 and never looked back.
It opened up to 15-9 midway through the set, behind senior outside hitter Hailey Luzum, who led the team in kills through the regular season with 242.
The No. 2 Timberwolves took the first set 25-18 and gained a lot of momentum with it.
It wasn’t going to be that easy, as the No. 3 Blue Devils woke up in the second set.
Skylar Arkfeld got going early with three kills in the first 10 points of the set.
Wynot led for the majority of the second set, until Samantha Horne served five straight points to give the Timberwolves a 17-16 lead.
Again, Wynot rebounded. This time, down 21-18, the Blue Devils won seven of eight points to steal the second set.
There was much of the same in the third, as the Blue Devils took control 19-15 and held onto the lead for the third-set win, one set away from their first state volleyball final in school history.
As the Timberwolves have done all year, they answered with a haymaker.
Exeter-Milligan dominated the fourth set and took care of business to set up a fifth and deciding set.
In that set came some fireworks, as Exeter-Milligan led 12-3 and was on the brink of breaking its way into the title game Saturday morning. Then Wynot showed its grit for the second day in a row and rallied back.
On their second chance at match point, the Blue Devils made the best of it with Cortney Arkfeld blocking a Timberwolves cross and putting her team in the state final with a 16-14 win.
“I think they grew a lot as individuals and a team fighting through all the adversity,” Wynot coach Tammy Wieseler said after the match.
Katelyn Heine, Wynot’s freshman setter, had 34 assists and 13 digs, one of six players with double digit dig totals. Carissa Kuchta, who had seven kills, led the way defensively with 30 digs, Holly Lauer had 15 and Cortney Linder 11.
Hannah Beethe’s 18 kills led four Exeter-Milligan players in double-digit kills and Sydney Hall had 51 set assists while adding 13 digs and five ace blocks.