The Omaha Concordia volleyball team reached new heights this season, thanks in large part to Megan Wickey.
The 6-foot-2 senior outside hitter led the Mustangs to a 34-2 record and a berth in the Class C-1 state tournament final. She pounded 455 kills, including 34 in a four-set state tourney semifinal win over Wahoo.
"Megan played a big role for us the past four years," Concordia coach Kiley Hansen said. "She has meant so much to our program in the way she has kept it moving forward."
Wickey, an Ohio State recruit, is the honorary captain of the All-Nebraska volleyball team. She is joined on the first team by Jessica Peters and Priscilla O'Dowd of Papillion-La Vista, Raegan LeGrand of Papillion-La Vista South, Tiani Reeves of Gothenburg, Carley Remmers of Freeman and Brittany Witt of Omaha Marian.
Second-team selections are Meagen Roth and Kylee Wurster of Lincoln Southeast, Elizabeth Loschen of Marian, Katie Stephens of Papillion-La Vista, Sarah Allick of Lincoln North Star, Maria Wortmann of Crofton and Morgan Stute of Kearney Catholic.
Members of the third team are Maddy Bruder and Kylie Hohlen of Norris, Hanna Justesen of Elmwood-Murdock, Claire Knust of Omaha Skutt, Kendall Schroer of Ogallala, Clare Hamburger of Hastings St. Cecilia and Taylor Els of Lincoln Southwest.
Selections for the All-Nebraska and All-Class teams are based on observations by World-Herald staff writers and nominations by coaches.
A second-team selection last season when she had 390 kills for the Mustangs, Wickey stepped up her game even more as a senior. In addition to her 455 kills, she was one of Concordia's top defensive players with 269 digs.
"She made a huge impact in the back row, to the point that people stopped serving at her," Hansen said. "People who can hit as hard as she does sometimes aren't as interested in defense, but Megan was the total package."
Hansen said Wickey also made strides to be more of a leader in her final varsity season.
"That was the biggest change from the past," the coach said. "She grew up a lot with her on-court demeanor and helped keep the team calm." Hansen said that was evident in the Mustangs' state tourney semifinal win over Wahoo. The Warriors had just tied the match by capturing the second set, which elicited a pep talk from Wickey.
"She was talking to the team before I even had a chance to say anything," the coach said. "She got them fired up and back on track."
Concordia won the next two sets 25-11, 25-14 to advance to the championship match for the first time.
Hansen said she is confident Wickey will go on to make an impact at the collegiate level as a future Buckeye.
"I think she'll do really well there," Hansen said. "Megan meant so much to our program, and I'm excited to see what the future holds for her."
The 5-foot-10 setter played a major role for the Monarchs, who were ranked No. 1 in Class A most of the season. Peters had 1,238 assists, 361 digs, 68 blocks and 45 aces.
"She was totally in sync the entire season," Papio coach Kristen Lebeda-Svehla said. "And she always seemed to know exactly where to set. Almost like ESP."
Peters, a Midland University recruit, began her high school career at Millard North. She has played for the Monarchs the past two seasons.
"Our whole team had a high volleyball IQ," Lebeda-Svehla said. "Jessica has a calmness about her, and I think that was a big reason for our success."
Peters' strong play helped Papio climb to No. 7 nationally while compiling a 42-0 record. The Monarchs lost their final match of the season in the Class A final to Marian, a team it had beaten five times during the season.
"It was so much fun playing on this team," Peters said. "I enjoyed every second of it."
Another key player for the powerful Monarchs, the 6-foot-1 middle hitter was a dominant force at the net. O'Dowd had 421 kills and led Class A with a .492 hitting percentage.
"She knew what to do when the ball came her way," Lebeda-Svehla said. "And to hit close to .500 for the season is just phenomenal."
O'Dowd also led Class A in blocks with 170, an average of 1.6 per set. While the Monarchs fell in four sets to the Crusaders in the state final, O'Dowd played one of her best matches. She led the team with 14 kills and seven blocks, but it wasn't enough.
"Priscilla always brought a lot of desire onto the court," Lebeda-Svehla said. "She was very focused and very consistent. ... Definitely one of the main reasons we had the season we did."
O'Dowd said that season-ending loss is something she can't shake.
"I still haven't gotten over it," she said. "I wish we could go back and play that one over again."
The Southern Cal recruit has had an interesting career at Papio South after starting two years ago as a freshman libero on the Titans' state championship squad.
She moved to outside hitter last season and responded with 354 kills. LeGrand was even more impressive this past season with 475 kills, an average of 4.6 per set.
"Raegan is a very dynamic player," Papio South coach Elena Pietro said. "She's a six-rotation player who can do anything on the court for us." Pietro said that versatility helped make LeGrand more effective as a hitter.
"She was able to spread the other team out," the coach said. "Her shot selection was solid and she always has a way of getting that ball down for a point."
Pietro added that the junior stepped into more of a leadership role this season for the 25-16 Titans, who reached state for the sixth time.
"Raegan is a gamer in the best sense of the word," the coach said. "The other girls look up to her, and she was up to the challenge."
A recruited walk-on to Nebraska, the 6-1 outside hitter overcame illness and a hand injury to put together a solid season for the Swedes.
She pounded 405 kills, second only to Concordia's Megan Wickey in Class C-1. She also had 64 blocks and a hitting percentage of .359.
"Tiani has been a diamond in the rough for a long time," Gothenburg assistant coach Jim Clark said. "I think we've only seen a fraction of what she'll be able to accomplish in the future."
Clark added that Reeves did everything she could to make the rest of the team better.
"In addition to her incredible physical skills, Tiani stepped up as a leader this season," he said. "We had a lot of adversity and she did her best to keep things going as steady as possible."
Clark said he is excited about seeing what is in Reeves' future at NU.
"She has a ton of natural ability," he said. "Tiani should be a great addition to that team."
Appendicitis and a foot injury slowed the Ohio recruit last season, but Remmers finished her varsity career in a big way for Class C-2 Freeman.
She had 449 kills and a .456 hitting percentage as the Falcons won their third state title and first since 2006. The versatile Remmers also had 95 blocks and set a school record with 301 digs.
"Carley's leadership and the confidence level she brought to our team were huge," coach Dani White said. "She truly made everybody else better."
Remmers stepped up her game even more during the state tournament. She had 17 kills and 15 digs in a first-round win over Sutton and 25 kills and 15 digs in a semifinal victory over Hastings St. Cecilia.
That helped boost the Falcons into the final against Crofton, the first time undefeated teams had met for the C-2 crown. Remmers responded with a match-high 29 kills and 12 digs as Freeman won in four long sets.
"All our girls rose to the occasion in that final," White said. "But I'll never forget the way Carley kept it together, calmed everyone down and made sure everyone was focused."
A second-team selection last season, the 5-7 junior libero was a steady force for the Class A champion Crusaders.
"Brittany was the backbone of the team," Marian coach Rochelle Rohlfs said. "She was our vocal leader on the court and a very disciplined player."
The Creighton recruit had a state-record 738 digs, which included big defensive efforts along the way. She set a school record with 47 digs in a loss against Papio and had 44 in a state tourney win over Lincoln Southeast.
In the final against the Monarchs, she had 33 digs to help the Crusaders win their second consecutive state title and sixth overall.
"It was important to have her in that back row," Rohlfs said. "We went through a new setting system and she was our stabilizer."
Rohlfs added that Witt saved some of her best performances for state.
"The way Brittany played was inspiring to our whole team," the coach said. "She did a great job for us, and she'll be back next season."
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More All-Nebraska selections
ALL-NEBRASKA SECOND TEAM
Elizabeth Loschen, Omaha Marian, Hitter, 6-1, Jr.: She had 357 kills and a team-leading 55 blocks for the Crusaders.
Meagen Roth, Lincoln Southeast, Hitter, 6-0, Sr.: A big hitter for the Knights, she finished with a team-high 320 kills.
Katie Stephens, Papillion-La Vista, Hitter, 5-9, Jr.: A key player for the 42-1 Monarchs, she had a team-leading 422 kills.
Sarah Allick, Lincoln North Star, Hitter, 6-1, Jr.: The Nebraska recruit led the Navigators in kills with 270.
Maria Wortmann, Crofton, Hitter, 5-11, Sr.: She had 386 kills for the 29-1 Warriors, who reached the state final for the second time.
Kylee Wurster, Lincoln Southeast, Setter, 5-8, Sr.: The four-year starter finished her career with a school-record 3,903 assists.
Morgan Stute, Kearney Catholic, Libero, 5-5, Sr.: She helped the Stars win their third consecutive Class C-1 title with 401 digs.
ALL-NEBRASKA THIRD TEAM
Hanna Justesen, Elmwood-Murdock, Hitter, 5-9, Sr.: She had 449 kills for the Knights, who reached state for the third time.
Maddy Bruder, Norris, Hitter, 5-11, Sr.: A key player for the Class B champion Titans, she had 443 kills and 44 blocks.
Kylie Hohlen, Norris, Hitter, 5-10, Sr.: She had 394 kills and 364 digs for the state-champion Titans.
Claire Knust, Omaha Skutt, Hitter, 6-0, Sr.: She led the Class B state runner-up SkyHawks with 347 kills.
Kendall Schroer, Ogallala, Hitter, 6-0, Sr.: The University of Nebraska at Kearney recruit had 335 kills and 76 blocks.
Clare Hamburger, Hastings St. Cecilia, Setter, 5-9, Sr.: A double threat, she had 423 assists and 290 kills.
Taylor Els, Lincoln Southwest, Libero, 5-7, Jr.: She had 499 digs for the Silver Hawks, an average of 5.1 per set.