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NCMS OTL Volleyball Champions Four Years in a Row

By: Ella Larkin

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    Every year the middle school volleyball teams face off in the Oregon Trail League (OTL) tournament. The tournament is held at a different school each year, this year it was held at Onaga. There are nine teams in the OTL: Nemaha Central (NC), Saints Peter and Paul (SPPS), Centralia, Troy, Wetmore, Onaga, Doniphan West, Axtell, and Frankfort. On the early morning of  Saturday, October 7, the games began.

    The first game that the Nemaha Central Thunder played was against Troy. The Trojans improved since the last time the Thunder had challenged them, so it came as quite a surprise when they walked out onto the court and the Trojans played well.  Even though the Trojans were a bigger competition, the Thunder won the first set 19-25. The second set the Thunder took off and won 8-25. Winning their first match the Thunder walked away proudly waiting for the next one.

    Shortly after the first, the second match was up for grabs, between Nemaha Central and Doniphan West. Feeling pumped up, the Thunder started out on a roll and kept it the whole match, winning the first set 11-25 and the second one 12-25. Two out of the five matches were out of the way, moving on to the last pool play match against the Centralia Panthers.

    Continuing their streak, the Thunder took a fast lead and won the first set 14-25. Even though the Thunder won the first set, the second set the Panthers found a weakness in the Thunder’s defense. They tipped to the outside corners and the Thunder team wasn’t prepared to defend it. The match quickly became a tipping sensation and the scores began to even out. The Thunder finally figured out how to pick up the tips and won the second set 23-25.

    Entering the semi finals, the Thunder team, who finished first from their pool, moved on to play the second ranked team from the other pool, which happened to be Onaga. The Thunder hadn't faced the Onaga volleyball team this season, so the Thunder team wasn't sure what to expect. The Thunder girls played exceptionally well and the Buffaloes didn't stand a chance as they lost 25-15. The second set went along the same way as the first and the Thunder swept up their fourth win of the day, 25-14.

    The finals, the place every team wants to go but only two have the opportunity, had the Seneca teams fighting for the gold. The NC Thunder and the SPPS Trojans, hometown rivalry, made its way to Onaga. The SPPS cheering section was hooting and hollering, but that didn't change the way either team played.

    The Thunder stayed calm, cool, and collected and acted as if it were any other game, not the championship. They had been playing amazing all day and this match didn't come as an exception, as they went on to win the first set 19-25. The realization that they only needed 25 more points to win OTL suddenly hit the Thunder team and they played one of the best sets of their season, figuring the better they played the faster they would win. Pulling out all of the stops, the Thunder won the second set 11-25.

    The NCMS volleyball team jumped, squealed (even though it didn't sound the greatest), and a few even cried. Four OTL wins in a row, what a great streak to end the day on. The Thunder team hopped onto the bus, singing what somewhat sounded like a few verses of Sweet Caroline, ready to go home, eat some food, and celebrate!

    "I was very excited when we won OTL and I'm glad we ended our season on a good note," said Taryn Ganstrom.

    "I thought that we worked really hard in practice and working hard made me and the others better. This led us to be OTL Champions," said Katelyn Ohlsen.

    "I thought overall the team performed at the top of their level. We had a few dips in our performance, but for the most part the girls were on top of their game. It was fun to watch the girls play to their potential, it just all clicked at the right time," said Coach Nikki Honeyman. 


 

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