GENEVA — Bruning-Davenport/Shickley is hungry.
The Eagles want to defend their Class D-2 state title, and they’ll get the opportunity to do so after sweeping Exeter-Milligan 25-13, 25-15, 25-19 Saturday in the D-2, District 3 final at Fillmore Central High School.
“We were excited when we found out it was Exeter-Milligan,” BDS head coach Kari Jo Alfs said. “We’d seen them numerous times this year. There weren’t really any surprises, we kind of knew what we were getting into.”
The Eagles clinched their third straight state tournament berth by pouncing on early opportunities.
The Timberwolves were asleep through most of the night. Unofficially, Exeter-Milligan committed 35 various unforced errors in the three sets.
Exeter-Milligan co-head coach Quinten Loontjer thought his team was “over-hyped” for the match.
“We were real ready to go for this, and we wanted this, but I think we wanted it too much. I think we lost focus,” he said. “BDS is a great team, there’s no denying that, but I don’t think we gave them our best shot. We came out a little flat-footed and when you come out like that against a team like them, you can’t recover.”
BDS’ aggression from the service line prevented Exeter-Milligan from getting into system. The T’wolves struggled to string points together, which prohibited them from establishing any sort of rhythm or comfortability.
“We didn’t really get a chance to run anything that we wanted to,” Loontjer said. “That’s a credit to BDS’ defense and their block. You’ve got to find a way, and we just couldn’t do it.”
The Eagles only served a pair of aces, but deep serves coupled with poor service reception by the T’Wolves gifted BDS plenty of free points and free balls.
“I really felt like we kept them out of system and their attacks weren’t always on the net,” Alfs said. “One of our goals this summer was to work hard in the serving area and it’s really paying off right now.”
Alfs credited the Eagles’ tough subdistrict, in which they lost the final to Lawrence-Nelson in five sets, for how prepared she feels the team is for state.
“What a great scrimmage heading into the state tournament. Where else can you go besides a subdistrict final and play for two solid hours with that type of competitiveness to prepare you for Lincoln?” Alfs said. “When you get into some of those Class D-2 schools, you don’t always have that many weapons (like Lawrence-Nelson’s) on the other side of the net that you can go against.”
Exeter-Milligan won its subdistrict, but against lesser competition in a pair of teams that both finished the year 9-21.
That’s not to say the T’Wolves were undeserving of a district final. But as Loontjer said, E-M played far from the level it needed to Saturday in order to make the state tournament.
The T’Wolves are a storied program with four championships this decade. Their streak of five straight trips to state ended Saturday.
“I think these big matches have built our program,” Loontjer said. “I just think we lost sight of what we needed to do (Saturday).”
Cammie Harrison paced the Timberwolves with eight kills. No other player had more than three.
The Eagles had four players with six or more kills.
Mariah Sliva and Regan Alfs slammed eight kills apiece. Macy Kamler tallied seven and Jordan Bolte added six kills.
BDS (27-4) heads to Lincoln as the No. 3 seed and draws No. 6 Bertrand (25-5) in the first round Thursday at Lincoln Northeast. The match is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
“Just knowing we have that feeling of going to state and winning it, we just want to do that again,” Kamler said.
E-M (17-14).............13 15 19
BDS (27-4)..............25 25 25
Jozie Kanode 0-1-0, Anna Sluka 2-2-0, Cameran Jansky 1-1-1 1/2, Cammie Harrison 8-1-0, Jaiden Papik 2-0-0, Emma Olsen 3-0-1 1/2. Totals: 16-5-3.
Assists — Olsen 13, Harrison 2, Sluka 1.
Mariah Sliva 8-0-3, Jennifer Holtzen 1-0-0, Macy Kamler 7-0-2, Jordan Bolte 6-1-0, Regan Alfs 8-1-0, Malory Dickson 1-0-1/2, Kaylee Noel 1-0-1 1/2. Totals: 32-2-6.
Assists — Alfs 17, Bolte 10, Kamler 2.