LINCOLN — Grand Island’s Alexa Blase typically relies on her offense when she’s on the volleyball court.
But the UNO recruit’s defense made a huge difference Tuesday night in the Nebraska Coaches Association all-star volleyball game at Lincoln North Star.
“It was fun. It was awesome,” Blase said after her Blue team swept the Red squad 25-22, 28-26, 25-23, 28-26. “Usually I swing as hard as I can. That’s where I usually get my points.”
Blase, who finished with seven kills and nine blocks, came up with decisive plays at the end of the sets.
The Blue team used a 5-0 run midway through the opening set to grab a 1-0 advantage. Taryn Mayfield of Grand Island Northwest had kills to begin and end the run as the Blue team took a 14-9 lead and stayed in front the rest of the set.
The Red team, which included Creighton recruit Jaela Zimmerman of Malcolm and Iowa recruit Sarah Wing of Omaha Marian, held a 19-15 lead in the second set and had two set points at 24-22.
But Papillion-La Vista’s Sydney Fitzgibbons had one of her eight kills to make it 24-23, then Blase’s block tied it. Blase ended the set with back-to-back kills.
The Red team didn’t trail in the third set until Omaha Duchesne’s Julianna Kalil served five points to put the Blue team up 17-14. The Blue squad maintained a narrow lead the rest of the way, ending the third set on a Blase kill.
That clinched the win for the Blue. A fourth set was played, and the Blue won another tight set, with the match ending, fittingly, on a double block by Blase and Stanton’s Hannah Heppner.
Kalil, who will play at the University of Chicago, led the Blue team with 10 kills. Seven Blue players finished with between four and 10 kills.
“The kids developed a really good team culture and really pulled together,” Blue coach Laura Miller of North Platte said. “(At the end of sets) they responded really well. I think that goes to the oneness they developed here.”
The Blue team also had to slow some big hitters for the Red. Zimmerman finished with 19 kills, all in the first three sets. North Bend Central’s Brooke Fredrickson had 10 and Wing nine.
“We had good communication, we had to talk,” Blase said. “That was a huge part. We meshed well together.”
Blue……….25 28 25 28
Red………..22 26 23 26
Blue (kills-aces-blocks): Kinsley Tingelhoff (Wahoo) 4-1-0, Alexa Blase (Grand Island) 7-1-9, Madison Evans (Millard North) 0-0-0, Sydney Fitzgibbons (Papio) 8-0-6, Taliyah Flores (Papio South) 5-0-0, Hannah Heppner (Stanton) 1-0-2, Julianna Kalil (Omaha Duchesne) 10-2-2, Taryn Mayfield (GINW) 6-0-0, Taylor O’Malley (Skutt) 0-0-0, Delaney Saucier (Skutt) 0-0-0, Riley Sis (McCook) 0-1-0, Bailee Sterling (Kearney) 4-0-0.
Red: Brooke Fredrickson (North Bend) 10-1-1, Ally Glaser (Papio) 0-4-2, Emily Krolikowski (Centura) 3-0-3, Halle Meister (Roncalli) 1-0-4, Riley Newton (Elkhorn South) 0-0-0, Lindsay Nottlemann (Pius) 0-0-0, Claire Ostrand (Neb. Christian) 5-0-0, Taylor Quiring (Heartland) 4-0-0, Kaitlynn Simon (Johnson-Brock) 0-0-0, Rachel Walker (Lincoln Southwest) 1-2-1, Sarah Wing (Marian) 9-0-2, Jaela Zimmerman (Malcolm) 19-1-1.
Assists: Blue 40 (Tingelhoff 24, Saucier 12, Sterling 2, O’Malley 2); Red 49 (Walker 24, Glaser 21, Nottlemann 2, Newton 1, Fredrickson 1).