2014 All-star match: North vs. South, sort of

First, I need to explain myself.

Last year when I took over the control of the Hastings Tribune Volleyball Classic all-star game, I wanted the rosters to possess players from all across the state and not just our immediate coverage area. The more faces and schools we had to our disposal would help make this game one of the more prestigious all-star volleyball events in Nebraska.

With that in mind, I set up new regions for a North team and South team. Players from the North team had to come from a school north of Interstate 80, including Grand Island schools. The South team would feature players south of that line, but I also included Kearney schools to help achieve competitive balance.

For some reason, I accidentally forgot my own rules when setting up the rosters for this year's event. Two girls from Kearney Catholic, Shayla Conner and McKenzie Smith, are on the North team when they should be on the South.

I know, I also can't believe I forgot my own rules.

The 2014 edition of the Tribune Volleyball Classic is set for Thursday at 7 p.m. at Hastings College's Lynn Farrell Arena. And, thankfully, after the rosters were finalized, I realized that my mistake might not matter after all.

Especially when the South team has St. Cecilia's Morgan Nikkila at one outside position spot and Blue Hill's Maci Coffey on the other. Will the North even know what hit it?

That, among many things, is a reason why fans and young players in the sport need to check out the game Thursday. Admission is $5 in support of the Tribune's Newspapers in Education program.

During the volleyball season last fall, I covered Blue Hill and St. Cecilia at Chapman Gymnasium for a match that basically turned into a one-on-one bout between Nikkila and Coffey, two of the hardest hitters in Tribland. It was quite the show.

At the time, it had me thinking, "Man, if we could get both those girls on one team, that could be scary."

Now it's a reality.

Twenty-one of some of the most talented players Nebraska has to offer will be participating in the all-star game. That is the second biggest group of players to ever commit to the Tribune Volleyball Classic.

The head coach of the North team is Lois Hixson of Aurora and her assistant is Kearney Catholic's Kris Conner. Dan Sorge of Bruning-Davenport/Shickley will lead the South squad with Kristi Allen of Blue Hill assisting.

Of the 21 girls playing, 12 will be continuing their volleyball careers in college. That includes two future Hastings College players in Katie Placke from Northwest and Cailyn Ostrand from Nebraska Christian.

Friend's Taylor Menke will be playing basketball at NCAA Division II Fort Hays State University, while Superior's Alex Meyer will compete in track and field at the University of Nebraska.
The list of players competing includes eight of them whose schools either won or finished runner-up at the state tournament in either of the past two seasons.

The game is guaranteed to be four sets.

Last season, though, the battle between North and South needed to go all five sets. It was an exciting volleyball match.

The South dropped the first two sets but came back to win 20-25, 15-25, 25-18, 25-23, 16-14. It was the first time that the South team, which is mostly comprised of Tribland players, had won the all-star game.

Are they going to do it again this year? I have no rooting interest. I'm just excited to see all the talent together on the floor, donning their high school uniforms one last time.

But I certainly hope my little mistake won't be the deciding factor.

To read more, see Wednesday's Hastings Tribune or the Tribune e-edition.>>


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