LINCOLN — Neither team accumulated any style points, but in the points that matter, defending Class D1 state champion had enough.
Fighting through a match of inconsistent play, the Knights defeated Overton 24-26, 25-16, 25-22, 25-15 Thursday in the state tournament quarterfinals at Lincoln Southeast’s Prasch Auditorium.
Archbishop Bergan (29-11) will play Pleasanton (31-1) in the semifinals at 9 a.m. today at Pinnacle Bank Arena, and Bergan coach Sue Wewel expects her team to turn in a better performance than it did against Overton.
The match never got out of the rut of double hits, net violations, inconsistent passing and net jousts dominated the play.
Part of the woes could be credited to state tournament jitters. For the Knights, it was the weight of last year’s championship.
"I think it was more just worry, just worried about defending our title," Wewel said. "There’s been a lot of hype this week in our area about, ‘Are you going to win back-to-back?’ Well that’s a lot of hype for high school kids."
On the other hand, Overton was making its first state tournament in its players’ lifetime and "we were definitely trying to do things that would calm their nerves a little bit," coach Haley Ryan said.
From the start, the match had an usual look. Overton’s setter, Anna Brennan had two of her team’s first three kills, and 6-foot middle hitter Haley Fleischman had the set assist on one of Brennan’s kills.
Bergan went on to lead 21-15 in the first set before Overton strung together eight straight points to take a 2-point lead. They exchanged 3-point rallies before Fleischman had back-to-back kills to end it.
But Bergan hung together throughout he next three sets, showing grit and desire, according to Wewel.
"They played well enough to win but I expected, and I expect to see a lot more improvement tomorrow."
Fleischman finished with a match-high 19 kills and teammate Rachel Ecklund added 15. As a team, Overton finished with 54 kills to Bergan’s 41, but Bergan had 18 blocks and seven ace serves to more than equalize the score.
Allie DeGroff led the Knights with 17 kills and four ace serves. Lauren Baker had 10 kills and four blocks, while Hannah Frost finished with nine kills and five blocks.