Volleyball - COLOR

Kynlee Strauser (6), takes a big swing against St. Paul

The Gothenburg volleyball team had a mantra this season of playing from within and each player took that to heart as they took the court against the Hershey Panthers Oct. 24 at Gothenburg High School in the C1-11 subdistrict championship game.

The Panthers have proven to be a tough match this season as the Swedes have met them in competition previously, winning the game.

In the first set on Oct. 24, the Swedes came out and won handily 25-12.

The second match saw the Swedes down by three points before changing back to take that set 25-23.

The third set was equally as strong as the teams traded points until the Swedes broke away and won 25-23, punching their ticket to the C1-2 district final game against St. Paul.

Clara Evert had 15 kills and Aubrey O’Hare added 12.

Jaiden Davis had 14 digs and Emily Cornwell had 21 assists.

Gothenburg traveled to Minden to take on the Wildcats in that district final game, another rematch from a previous match this season which the Wildcats won.

Swede head volleyball coach Bryson Mahlberg said that the team approached this game the same way they had any other game this season, despite being down a couple of key players due to illness.

“Regardless of who we had on the court, we went into the match expecting to play at a high level and I thought we did that,” he said.

St. Paul came into the game ranked No. 2 in the Omaha World-Herald Class C-1 rankings, and the Swedes came out to play hard.

Despite taking the court with a mission to win, the Swedes dropped the game in three sets, 18-25, 21-25, 11-25, bringing the season to an end for a team that posted a 20-21 record on the 2020 campaign.

O’Hare had five kills and seven assists.

Evert had seven kills and nine digs.

In thinking about the season as a whole, Mahlberg said that considering there was a chance there may not have even been a season, the ride was pretty incredible.

“What a wild ride,” he said. “I give all of the credit to our players. They did an incredible job of adapting to the changes and truly doing everything in their power to ensure we were able to compete this season.”

Mahlberg went on to say that he was proud of his team’s attitude as they approached a season with so many unknowns.

“This was an amazing group of student-athletes that truly got along and accepted the ‘we before me’ attitude and understood that everything we do is for the betterment of the team first and foremost,” he said.

The end of the season also marks the end of the Swede volleyball careers of Bella Rickertsen, Chiara Richeson, Jaiden Davis and Lunden Groene.

Rickertsen ends her 2020 season with 166 kills in 88 sets played. She logged 44 ace serves and 143 digs.

Davis logged 391 successful serve receives and 355 digs, including 1000th career dig in her senior campaign as the Swede libero.

Richeson held strong in the back row, posting 181 digs and 180 serve receptions in 91 sets played.

Groene tallied eight ace serves, seven digs, two assists and four successful serve receives in her 33 sets played.

“This group of seniors, first and foremost, are amazing young women and we can’t wait to see where their future takes them,” Mahlberg said. “This class developed into great leaders who had the great ability to motivate each other while holding teammates accountable. They are one of the most organized classes that I have ever had and just a great group to be around.”

In thinking about the future of the volleyball program, Mahlberg said he was looking forward to the players who have made an impact on the program so far and is excited for what’s to come.

“We had a good number of young players step into key roles for us this year and we look forward to those players continuing to work hard and improve as they get older,” he said. “It is exciting to have a great group that values working hard and being good teammates and doing the right thing on and off the court.”

Contact Rebecca Steward at rebecca@gothenburgleader.com or call 308.537.9498