YORK – After a Wednesday morning full of math and wildcard-points number crunching, the York Dukes volleyball coaching staff had a good idea that they’d still have a shot at a state tournament berth, even after losing to Grand Island Northwest in a subdistrict semifinal on Tuesday.
So on Thursday morning when the NSAA came out with the official district pairings and the Dukes’ saw their name in the B-5 final, the waiting game was finally over.
“The girls are so excited,” York head coach Chris Ericson said. “They felt like Tuesday was a total letdown and they wanted a chance to step on the floor again and prove themselves. Playing in a district final, for a ticket to Lincoln, is the first step in every kid’s dream.”
The fact that York did enough during the regular season to earn a spot in a district final tells the story of the program’s turnaround. Just last season, York finished 7-23. Now, the young Dukes – they only have one senior on the roster – are one win away from making state, something which hasn’t happened since 2012.
What’s the biggest reason for the turnaround? That’d be team chemistry, without a doubt, according to Ericson.
“This group has focused on that since summer, making it a priority,” Ericson said. “No doubt that experience is key, but the chemistry of this team and the bond they have is unlike any team I have coached in my 19 years in the game. It’s pretty special.”
York, which is No. 8 in the latest Omaha World-Herald’s Class B ratings, will travel to Springfield, Neb., to play the No. 6 Platteview Trojans Saturday at 3 p.m.
Platteview reminds Ericson of his own team.
“I feel like they are a carbon copy of us statistically, as well as with their personnel,” he said. “They bring an offense similar to teams we’ve seen the past few weeks.”
Leading the Dukes into the match is 6-foot sophomore standout Masa Scheierman, who is tops on the team in kills with 389 and digs with 361. She broke the school record for single-season kills a couple weeks ago, while in Tuesday’s match with Northwest, she also broke the single-season digs record, which was previously held by Hailee Pohl.
According to maxpreps.com, Platteview’s top attacker is senior Anna Koehler with 297 kills. Just like Scheierman, Koehler is tied for the team lead in ace serves as well with 37. Scheierman is tied with Natalie Rockenbach with 39.
The state volleyball tournament is Thursday through Saturday in Lincoln.