Bulldogs make expanded Class B sub-state volleyball playoffs
     2013-11-07      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
Photo by Philip Eckerberg/for the Citizen - Gering senior Katie O’Boyle goes up for a spike against Scottsbluff sophomore Chesney Walker (No. 6) and senior Shalee Roseberry (No. 13) during a regular season game at Scottsbluff. 
Gering rallies to down Scottsbluff, falls to Sidney in District B-8 final but continues in quest to make state

Nebraska's new Class B volleyball playoff system has an extra step this year, and in the case of the Gering Bulldogs, they will live to play for another day as a result.

In past years, the Bulldogs' three-set loss to Sidney in Tuesday night's district finals would have spelled the end of the season for a team like Gering, which at 16-17 would not have advanced to state.

With the new eight-district, 16-team sub-state round -- which will be played Saturday, with No. 15 Gering traveling to North Platte to face No. 2 and 35-0 Northwest, at 11 a.m. Mountain Time -- the Bulldogs' state tournament hopes are still alive.

"It's just sub-state," Gering interim coach Stevie Gable said Monday night after learning the Bulldogs' extended playoff fate but feeling like her team has yet to reach its ultimate goal. "We still have a tough match against a very solid team to reach our ultimate goal, and that is the state tournament."

Saturday's sub-state match will be a best-of-five event, with the winner returning to Grand Island for Class B State Tournament action beginning Nov. 12.

Gering had to work, and work hard, in order to even make Tuesday's District B-8 championship match at the Cabela's Athletic Center in Sidney.

The No. 2 seed Bulldogs erased a two-set deficit to No. 3 seed Scottsbluff to force a fifth set, in which the Bulldogs trailed the Bearcats 13-12 before they scored the last three points to take the win 18-25, 23-25, 25-22, 25-18, 15-13.

After the Bulldogs and Bearcats locked horns for the fifth time, Gering's district title effort was strong against top-seeded Sidney -- which swept Alliance in three games in their semifinal.

But the well-rested Red Raiders proved too much for the Bulldogs, and Sidney swept Gering 25-18, 26-24, 25-22 to win the district title.

Sidney (22-10) is the No. 9 seed in the sub-state bracket and has to travel to No. 8 seed Beatrice for its match.

In the Gering-Scottsbluff match, the Bearcats gained the early momentum and advantage in winning the first two games.

"I think tonight both teams came in having the same goal," Scottsbluff coach Kenna Hubbard said. "All last week, our goal was to come into tonight and play the best volleyball we've played all season, and I thought our girls did that."

Gering answered with a strong beginning to the third set, pinning the Bearcats down 12-4 and 22-14 before closing out the game 25-22.

The teams played a tight fourth set until Gering turned a 15-14 deficit into a 20-15 lead and kept Scottsbluff from getting no closer than three the rest of the game to force the fifth and deciding set.

The Bulldogs broke open a tight final set to lead 8-5 and 11-9, only to have the Bearcats gain a 13-12 lead. But Gering closed out the match on three straight points, eliminate its arch-rival and move into the district final.

"It was a great volleyball match between two very competitive teams who weren't going to go away easily," Hubbard said.

For Scottsbluff (11-22), SteaVen Becker had two digs, four kills and three ace blocks; Makayla Castro had 21 digs, 18 kills, three assists and five ace serves; Amy Colburn made 16 digs, eight kills and four assists; Savannah Menghini made 33 digs; Shalee Roseberry had 11 digs, three kills and two ace blocks; Chesney Walker made 17 digs and 18 kills; and Kyra Willats had 41 assists, 12 digs and four kills.

Although Gering had beaten Sidney on Oct. 22 at home, the Red Raiders were raring to go on their home court and the district title on the line.

"They had us running around and in circles much of the match," Gable said. "They were the dominant team this time. But our girls played hard, left it all out there, and now we will get ready for the sub-state match."

For the Bulldogs on the night, Allie Boggs had 14 kills, eight assists, two blocks and three digs; Kaylee Spreier had 15 kills, 24 digs, six assists and four blocks, while Katie O'Boyle made 10 blocks, 11 kills and five digs; Kelsea Prieels made 30 set assists and 10 digs; and Savannah Walker had 19 kills, 24 digs and three blocks.

Also for Gering, Kaila Borgman had one kill, six blocks, two service aces and two digs; Aubrey Gonzales made 13 digs; Abby Kiesel had 13 kills, five blocks and eight digs; Leah Newman had two digs and a kill; Brooklyn Perez made 12 set assists, 10 digs and two kills; and Jade Riedel made 13 digs.

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