KEARNEY — It almost seems like ancient history.
The last time the Eagles went to the state tournament, they lost to Hastings St. Cecilia — and scored just four points.
But that was in 1990, a decade before players on this year’s team were born. Back when teams had to serve to score.
Back before summer leagues and summer tournaments, too.
It went under the radar this summer in the Kearney Catholic Top Ten Tournament when Overton played Archbishop Bergan, the defending Class D1 state champions.
“It gives the girls confidence because we have seen them,” Overton coach Haley Ryan said.
Overton will face off with the Bergan Knights at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at Lincoln Southeast in the first round of the state tournament and the memory of matching up with the knights will go a long way with a team playing in its first state tournament.
“The girls are thrilled. They’re pretty excited,” Ryan said.
Bergan comes into the tournament as the fourth seed with a 28-11 record, while Overton is the fifth seed with a 28-4 mark. The Knights got the edge in wild-card points that are used for seeding because of their schedule. Bergan has played more Class A teams than Class D teams and has beaten Lincoln High, Omaha South and Omaha Burke.
The Knights also own a victory over Kearney Catholic, which defeated Overton in four sets.
“Anytime you get down to ... state, to the top eight teams in the state, you know you’re going to have your work cut out for you,” Ryan said.
Bergan has a deep and solid attack led by 5-foot-8 senior Allie DeGroff, who has 325 kills and 59 ace serves this year. Five-9 junior Lauren Baker has 264 kills this year.
“They’re pretty well rounded. ... We want to play our own game, get those jitters out and play together as a team,” Ryan said.
For Overton, 6-foot junior Haley Fleischman and 5-10 junior Rachel Ecklund have provided the firepower. Fleischman has 390 kills and 63 blocks. Ecklund is not far behind with 324 kills and 61 blocks. But the Eagles will need their outside hitters to be effective to take pressure off the middles.
“It seems like they’re peaking at the right time. ... Our team has gotten the momentum going,” Ryan said.