Falls City Sacred Heart travels to conference rival and district foe Sterling tonight for a showdown between two of Class D2’s best teams. The Lady Irish take with them a five-game winning streak, a number five ranking and a 20-3 record.
Fourth-ranked Sterling boasts an 18-5 record and can wear a feather in their cap for being one of the three teams to beat FCSH.
Sterling narrowly defeated the Irish in two thrilling sets 26-24 and 25-23 to claim the fifth-place consolation trophy of the Mudecas Tournament, which makes tonight’s triangular between FCSH, Sterling and Lourdes Central Catholic all that more compelling.
If Sacred Heart can escape Sterling with a win over the Jets tonight and even up the season series at 1-1, next Friday’s Pioneer Conference championship in Humboldt could have the makings of something special.
Looking ahead makes good fodder for fans and members of the media, but it must rank way up there on the majority of coach’s “Least Favorite Things List.”
Sacred Heart’s regular season, for all intents and purposes, wraps up in Sterling tonight and then it’s all eyes on postseason play.
First stop being the previously discussed Pioneer Conference Tournament, which begins with next Monday’s first round games in Pawnee City and Humboldt. The Lady Irish are seeded No. 2 and await the winner of No. 7 Diller-Odell (13-10) and No. 10 Lewiston (2-21), who play at 4:30 p.m. in Pawnee City. FCSH and D-O/Lewiston also play in Pawnee City and start at 7 p.m.
Opposite Sacred Heart is No. 3 Friend and No. 6 Lourdes, who face each other at 5:45 p.m. in Humboldt. Friend is 20-3 in Class D1, ranked fifth and currently riding a six-game winning streak. Friend boasts wins over Sterling, Freeman and Exeter-Milligan and will undoubtedly be a tough out.
On the other side of the bracket are No. 4 Johnson-Brock (13-8) vs. No. 5 Pawnee City (11-12), No. 8 HTRS (11-10) vs. No. 9 Wymore Southern (8-13) and top-seeded Sterling, who await the HTRS-Southern winner.
Tuesday’s semifinals are scheduled for 5:45 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. in Humboldt and the championship is set for 8 p.m. Friday. The third-place match will precede Friday’s championship.
The Lady Irish earned victory number 20 at home last Thursday in a four-set victory over Pawnee City, 25-17, 25-12, 21-25 and 25-18. The win also marked the third of the season for FCSH against Pawnee City. Freshmen Haylee Heits and sophomore Maggie Goltz led the Irish attack with 19 kills each. Abby Magdanz was perfect on her serves, converting 17-of-17 attempts with a pair of aces.
FCSH swept a pair of matches at last Tuesday’s triangular in Johnson against hosts, Johnson-Brock and HTRS.
The Lady Irish got all they could handle from J-B, who beat FCSH, 25-21, in the first set and then forced FCSH to the brink in the second and third games, 29-27 and 25-23. Heits and Goltz combined for 27 kills. Ashli Jordan served three aces and recorded 26 digs.
The first match of the night was against HTRS and Sacred Heart hung on in three sets, 29-27, 19-25 and 25-20. Goltz again led the attack with 15 kills and Abby Magdanz went 15-for-15 serving with four aces.
Elizabeth Magdanz combined for 92 assists in the three matches last week.