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High Schools

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Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Bishop Luers’ Kayla Knapke hits between the blocks of Olivia Hahn, left, and Te’Ayla Whitfield of Concordia on Saturday.

Slow starts don’t spike run to title

Luers wins 1st SAC tournament despite pair of first-set defeats

– Not even slow starts could prevent Bishop Luers from winning its first Preseason SAC Volleyball Tournament on Saturday at North Side.

The Knights dropped the first game in upset wins over top-seeded Snider and defending tournament champion Concordia, but they still came away with the title with an 18-25, 25-22, 15-4 win over the Cadets in the finals.

“They get on edge early, and they are really tight because they are so pumped up to win,” Luers coach Scott Shipman said.

“After that, they calm down and play the way they know how to play.”

The Cadets have been the SAC tournament runners-up three out of the last four years.

Luers took out Snider 18-25, 25-20, 15-9 in pool play Saturday.

“When we start playing, we are all so tight and so pumped up that it just gets to us,” Luers senior libero Emily Scheiber said. “We just start to relax and everything flows, and we get together and it works.

“(The title is) just so awesome. I can’t even explain it. We worked so hard for so many years.”

Junior MacKenzie North led the Knights with seven kills, eight digs and a block in the title match. Senior Jenna Hoch added seven kills, while freshman Kayla Knapke had three aces.

“It means a lot to beat Concordia,” North said. “We got so pumped up for the first game and so nervous, so we just came back and gave it everything. I am excited to go back to school and say we won pre-SAC. It is a big thing for the school, and hopefully we can continue the tradition next year. Now everybody is going to come after us, and we are the team to beat because we won the pre-SAC tournament. We are going to have to be ready for that.”

Shipman tempered the championship celebration with a bit of coaching reality.

“You are always thrilled to get something like this,” he said. “As a coach, and they probably think I am a spoil sport, but for me it is them playing well. It’s so early in the season we are looking for what they are doing as a team and not necessarily the W. But if they are playing this way early, you are thrilled because you are hoping they can just build off that and keep going up.”

Concordia, which graduated a strong senior class from last year, is without sophomore Tionna Williams in the middle. Williams suffered a tendon injury in the offseason and was in a walking boot for about a month. She was in uniform during the tournament.

“We aren’t going to be about one person, but we will be better when she comes back,” Concordia coach Trish Miller said, adding she doesn’t know when Williams will return. “Luers had a big win against Snider and had a big win against us. They scrapped and dug and played a really good match.

“It is about a game of mistakes, and we beat ourselves a lot. (The Knights) put us on our heels, and they earned it. They set the momentum and had some awesome serving. They put us out of our system in that last set, and we panicked. We mentally did not fight through it.”

Olivia Hahn led the Cadets, who are also the defending regular-season conference champions, with seven kills in the title match, and Erica Shively had six.

gjones@jg.net

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