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After slow start, Griffins advance to state semis
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After slow start, Griffins advance to state semis

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LINCOLN -- State tournament experience proved to be key in Diller-Odell's first round match of the Class D2 State Tournament on Thursday.

The top-seeded Lady Griffins let a lead slip away late in the first set, but rallied to win the next three sets and beat eighth-seeded Nebraska Christian 23-25, 25-11, 25-19, 25-10.

With the win, the Griffins will play a semifinal match at 9 a.m. on Friday at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Sophomore Karli Heidemann had 31 kills in the match. Her sister, senior Iowa State recruit Addison Heidemann, was feeding the ball to her all morning at the setter position. Those two, along with a host of others, were members of last year's Class D1 State Championship team, so falling behind 1-0 early didn't faze the Griffins.

"A lot of these girls have been to state before," said Diller-Odell coach Reba Hestermann. "They know know what the environment is like and I think that was an advantage for us."

Despite Karli Heidemann putting down 10 of her 31 kills in the first set and the Griffins having a late 23-18 lead, Nebraska Christian was able to rally for seven straight points to win the set 25-23. 

Diller-Odell responded nicely. They jumped out to an early 7-0 lead in the second set and never looked back on their way to a 25-11 win.

"After that first set, I just told them we needed to start fresh," Hestermann said. "We needed to forget it and come out better in the second set. I think we executed really well and held our serve. I  told them we were here to make a statement and I think we were able to do so."

Nebraska Christian kept it competitive in the second set, but with the score 21-19, Diller-Odell rattled off four straight points to win 25-19. The fourth set was similar to the second set with Diller-Odell getting up early and Nebraska Christian never recovering.

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Hestermann said how a team bounces back after a tough set is an indicator of how good a team is.

"Making a statement after getting out of a tough set really sets the precedence of how you're going to perform throughout the rest of the match," Hestermann said. "We went out and held our serve and we wanted to make a statement of 'we're not going to let you back in this thing.'"

Hestermann said it's very helpful having an attacker like Karli Heidemann on the team, saying she is someone they can always go to in pressure situations.

"(Karli) is willing to hit different shots," Hestermann said. "She doesn't have the same hit every time and she's willing to vary it up and find the open shots. Our back row also does a nice job of telling her where those open spots are, so they do a good job of working as a team out there."

In addition to her 31 kills, Karli Heidemann had three blocks, two ace serves and 13 digs.

Addison Heidemann had seven kills, 44 assists, three blocks and two ace serves. Hestermann said Addison Heidemann serves as a calming influence on the floor, especially during times of adversity.

"She keeps everybody together and she keeps her composure," Hestermann said. "She also does things in the game that make an impact to set the tempo for the rest of the team."

Ava Lovitt and Elecea Saathoff had seven kills each while Madelyn Meyerle had five kills and Lilly Swanson had four kills.

The Griffins will play fourth-seeded Falls City Sacred Heart. The Lady Irish has dealt Diller-Odell their only loss on the season, but Diller-Odell has won two other matches against the Irish. Sacred Heart advanced by defeating Humphrey St. Francis 23-25, 25-15, 25-22, 25-23.

In Friday's other Class D2 semifinal match, third-seeded and undefeated Maywood-Hayes Center will play second-seeded CWC.

The Class D2 State Championship will be played at 9 a.m. on Saturday at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

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