Gering falls in three sets to Firth Norris at substate match
     2014-11-13      By Jane White   
Photo by Jane White - Gering back-line specialist Sara Schwartzkopf works her position well to set up an offensive play for the Bulldogs during action at the Class B Nebraska State High School volleyball substate match against Firth Norris. 
Gering’s Lady Bulldogs came within one win of a Class B Nebraska State High School Volleyball Championships berth while playing just a few miles from the tournament site in Lincoln.

The Gering girls fell to Class B defending state champion Firth Norris in straight sets on Saturday, Nov. 8, in the B-7 Substate final, 25-19, 25-12, 25-11.

Norris is located about 20 miles south of Lincoln.
Gering, which has made 18 state tournament appearances, was looking for its first state berth since 2011.
Gering’s scrappy defense kept the Lady Bulldogs in the game early against the defending state champions.

Norris coach Christina Boesiger said her team had a hard time figuring out the Lady Bulldogs’ defensive alignment, making for a close first set.

In the second and third sets, the Lady Titans were able to get their offense rolling.
Gering coach David Lashley said his team played “fairly well” in the first set due to some good passing both in serve receives and defense.

“In the following two sets, they (Norris) passed a little better and placed their hits very well,” Lashley said. “And we struggled passing and serving.”

Lashley said his team gave up several points with bad passes and missed serves and were unable to make those points back up.

“Our team played hard and gave a solid effort,” Lashley said. “We just made too many unforced errors.”
Offensively, Gering had 18 kills in the match, led by Kaylee Spreier with 10.
Leah Newman and Lauren Shaul had three kills each for the Lady Bulldogs and Allie Boggs and Jade Riedel added one apiece.
Boggs led in set assists with eight, while Brooklyn Perez had six.
Gering had two ace serves in the match, one each by Shaul and Spreier.

Defensively, Newman and Sara Schwartzkopf led in digs with nine each, while Spreier had eight.
Spreier was credited with a solo block.
Norris goes to 28-5 on the season and advances to the state tournament, while Gering finishes its season at 20-16.
Overall, Lashley said it was a good season for his squad.

“The players adjusted well to the change in philosophy,” Lashley said. “I thought that we developed some hitters as the season went on and learned to play together as a team much better than in the beginning.”

Being forced to end the season, 450 miles from home is something Lashley didn’t like, however.
“As far as the substate concept goes I dislike it immensely,” Lashley said. “I simply refer to it as ‘The Keep the Western Teams Out of the State Tournament Rule.’”

Lashley said 20 years ago, when the stronger volleyball teams were out west, there was no mention of a substate.

“I can remember watching a Class B district out in Gering when four of the teams in the tournament were among the top five or six teams in the state and only one got to go to state,” Lashley said. “There was not even the wild card system.”

Lashley said wildcards and substates didn’t come along until the “power of the game” switched to the eastern part of the state.
“If they are going to continue this concept they need to change the format. Forcing teams to travel 450 miles to play one match with the possibility of turning around and doing that again the next week is insane. The cost to the teams and school districts is huge.”

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