The Axtell Lady Cats volleyball team punched its ticket to the 2010 Nebraska State Volleyball Tournament to be held in Grand Island/Hastings on Nov. 11-13.
Axtell would face a tough challenge in the Class D1-5 district final taking on the Bertrand Vikings for a second time this year.
Bertrand gave Axtell one of its two losses on the season and the Lady Cats were looking for a little payback.
The Lady Cats and Vikings gave the crowd at Elm Creek a great back and forth volleyball with Axtell prevailing in five sets by scores of 22-25, 25-23, 13-25, 25-10 and 15-12.
Axtell (27-2) will enter the D-1 field as the fourth-seed and take on fifth-seeded West Point Central Catholic Bluejays at 2:30 p.m. at Grand Island Northwest High School in the first round on Thursday. The Axtell/WPCC winner will advance to the D-1 semifinal on Friday to take on either top-seeded Exeter-Milligan or eighth-seeded Sutherland at 2 p.m. at Grand Island Senior High School.
The Lady Cats will be making their ninth state appearance, the last being in 2006. Axtell won Class D titles in 1982, 1983 and 1993.
Axtell and Bertrand battled tooth and nail in the opening set to seize control of the match. The Vikings took the lead for good at 7-6 and Axtell could never get the lead back. Bertrand led by as many as six but the Cats battled back to within two, 22-20, behind a kill by Shala Nelson. Axtell wouldn’t get any closer as the Vikings took the first set, 22-25.
In the second set, Axtell took an early lead 9-8 and maintained its lead at 14-13 behind four kills by Nelson during the span of the set. Bertrand and Axtell would either tie or have a share of have the lead 11 times before the Lady Cats regained the lead 24-23 on a kill by Nelson. Hailey Kring ended the second set for the Cats on an ace serve giving Axtell the set 25-23.
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