LINCOLN – The semifinal hurdle that is Archbishop Bergan tripped Pleasanton again.
Meeting for the second straight year in the Class D1 state tournament semifinals, the Knights prevailed again, 25-23, 21-25, 26-24, 25-20 to advance to the championship while Pleasanton drops into the third-place match.
“I told the girls, 'Don't let this define the season that we've had,'” Pleasanton coach Shane Nordby said. “We've had a great season. They're a great group of girls. They worked hard and I told them to let it hurt a little bit and then use it to drive you tomorrow. We still want to finish the season with a win.”
Pleasanton (31-2) will play Hartington Cedar Catholic (19-13) at 1 p.m. Saturday at Lincoln East High School.
Correlating with the close scores, Nordby said the didn't see a huge difference between the two teams.
He said the Knights (30-11) may have had an edge in blocking, but he felt his Bulldogs were better attackers and both teams played solid defense.
“There weren't a lot of balls that touched without any effort going after them,” he said.
Pleasanton finished with a 68-48 advantage in kills, but Bergan had an 8-3 advantage in blocks and a 5-3 margin in ace serves.
Katy Lindner led the Bulldogs with 20 kills, while Belle Paitz had 14 and Kaci Pierce had 10.
“They are power hitters and they're going to swing at you,” Bergan coach Sue Wewel said. “We just had tobe able to play defense on them. … It was (Paitz) hittin the line and (Lindner) is a rally good hitter and had a nice spray.
“We had to get up on the block qucker beause (Lincner) has such a quick arm swing.”\
Offensively, the Knights got 20 kills from allie DeGroff, 11 kills and three blocks from Lauren Baker and eight kills and five blocks from left-hander Hannah Frost.
“It was just two tough teams competing. … I felt it could have gone either way,” Nordby said. “That third set with us, we shanked the last two balls. That could have been a game-changer had we won. That could have bround a whole different feel to the atmosphere.
After falling behind 6-1 in the third set, Pleasanton put together a 6-1 run of its own to go ahead 19-18. The Bulldogs served for the set leading 24-23, but Bergan pulled it out with a pair of kills and an ace serve by DeGroff.