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Mustangs Outlast Wolfpack in Five Sets

Will Play For Championship 11:00 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 12 at Devaney

November 11, 2016

BY Jay Hannah | November 11, 2016  CHANNEL 21 | KUTT 99.5 FM | FAIRBURY

Lincoln– It wasn’t easy, but the Meridian Mustangs are making their second state championship in school history after a thrilling five set win against #2 Elgin Public/Pope John on Friday.

The Mustangs advanced after winning, 25-20, 25-27, 25-11, 22-25 and 15-9.

Rylee Pieper led the way with 24 kills and 17 digs for the #3 seed. Erin Johnson and Halle Pribyl each had 35 digs, as well.

Jordan Mescher contributed 30 digs for the Wolfpack, who finish their season at 27-5.

Meridian improves to 26-5 and will play the winner of #1 Johnson-Brock and #5 Guardian Angels Central Catholic at 11 a.m. Saturday for the state championship. The Mustangs defeated Johnson-Brock in the District Finals to qualify for state.

 

By Mike Patterson / World-Herald staff writer
LINCOLN — It wasn't easy, but Meridian will head back to the state tournament final for the first time in 36 years.

The Mustangs outlasted Elgin/Pope John 25-20, 25-27, 25-11, 22-25, 15-9 in a marathon Class D-1 semifinal Friday at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Meridian will play in the final at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Devaney Center.

"It's tough on a person,'' Mustangs coach Bob VanWesten said. "But our team responded again and it always seems to find a way.''

Meridian found a way after seeing the Wolfpack capture the fourth set to tie the match. Even though the Mustangs lost that one, they regained some needed momentum late in that set by staving off five set points before a kill by Grace Henn forced the fifth set.

"They're battlers and scrappers,'' VanWesten said. "We came back from being down 18-9 to (top-ranked) Diller-Odell earlier this year so the girls feel anything is possible.''

Meridian got a big effort in that fifth set from its tallest player, 6-foot-1 middle blocker Lauren DeLord. She had consecutive blocks that stretched the Mustangs lead from 7-6 to 9-6.

"Our blocks are what did it for us in that last set,'' VanWesten said. "Lauren has really made big strides this year.''

The Wolfpack used their final timeout after falling behind 10-7 but the Mustangs couldn't be stopped. Senior Allison Klipp pounded three kills in Meridian's final five points, including the last one on match point.

Junior Rylee Pieper led the Mustangs with 25 kills, 10 in the first set. Freshman Halle Pribyl added 15 kills, Klipp finished with 12 and setter Erin Johnson dished out 48 assists.

Liz Selting paced Elgin/Pope John with 12 kills while Paige Meis and Amy Nelson each had 10. Grace Henn added nine kills and Baylee Wemhoff had 27 assists.

Now it's on to the final for Meridian, which finished as the state runner-up in 1980 in its only previous championship appearance.

"It's really exciting,'' VanWesten said. "We've played a lot of the best teams from our area and we deserve to be there.''


Elgin/Pope John (27-5)..........20 25 11 25 9

Meridian (26-5).......................25 25 25 22 15

E/PJ (kills-aces-blocks): Jordan Mescher 0-2-0, Nicki Payne 1-0-0, Paige Meis 10-0-1, Grace Henn 9-0-2, Baylee Wemhoff 1-0-0, Calli Krebs 0-1-0, Amy Nelson 10-2-4, Liz Selting 12-1-0, Lydia Behnk 0-0-1.

M: Erin Johnson 2-3-0, Allison Klipp 12-3-0, Hailey Schafer 5-0-0, Jaicee Sobotka 0-1-0, Halle Pribyl 15-2-1, Rylee Pieper 25-2-0, Lauren DeLord 3-0-7.

Set assists: E/PJ 38 (B. Wemhoff 27, A. Wemhoff 9, Payne 2). M 48 (Johnson 48).

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