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Diller-Odell claims first ever state championship
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Diller-Odell claims first ever state championship

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LINCOLN -- Diller-Odell volleyball can finally declare themselves champions.

After two runner-up finishes and one third place finish in the last five years, Diller-Odell was finally able to finish the job Saturday in the Class D1 State Championship Match.

The second-seeded Griffins swept Archbishop Bergan 25-19, 25-17, 25-22 to claim their first state championship in school history.

Diller-Odell won all three of their state tournament matches by sweep and they only lost five total sets all season long.

Saturday's championship match proved to be the least stressful for the Griffins in their state tournament journey. They never trailed by more than three points in any of the three sets.

Karli Heidemann served as the closer for Diller-Odell. The third set was tied 22-22, but three straight kills by the freshman phenom put the match away, sparking a wild celebration at center court.

Senior Mackenzie Vitosh was covering Heidemann on the final point and she described the moment as "exhilarating." Vitosh, as well as her fellow seniors, were part of the Diller-Odell team that finished runner-up in 2016.

"As soon as that ball hit the ground, I just collapsed," Vitosh said. "We've been working towards this since we were student managers and we had gotten so close and we didn't want to get second place again. Watching that ball hit the floor was the best feeling ever."

While Karli Heidemann served as the closer with her 13 kills, it was Vitosh who was the workhorse throughout the match. She finished with 17 kills and was in on three blocks.

Senior Emily Swanson had eight kills and three blocks and was part of a crucial 4-1 run in the second set in which she had three kills and a block which extended the Griffin lead to 22-16.

Diller-Odell coach Kandice Jurgens said her team's multitude of weapons has been their strength all year.

"We want Addie (Heidemann) to keep all of our hitters involved," Jurgens said. "Because even if one of the girls isn't getting the same amount of kills as the others, they still have to respect her. That opens things up for us and whoever opposing coaches decide to key on, we can adjust."

Vitosh said Saturday's win was a group effort, starting with the passing game.

"Our pass was phenomenal and our defense was stellar," Vitosh said. "Our blocks were there. The balls that everybody was expecting to drop --we were getting there. And our setter just put the ball right where it needed to be and it was a kill almost every time. It starts with the pass and everybody else did their job and it was just a really great day."

Addison Heidemann had 37 assists and four kills in the match while Ava Lovitt added four kills and Madelyn Meyerle had one kill.

Diller-Odell finished runner up in Class C2 in 2016 and runner-up in Class D1 in 2015. They finished third at state in 2014. Last year, they qualified for state but were eliminated in the first round.

Diller-Odell setter Addison Heidemann said that early exit left a chip on their shoulder for this season.

"We came so close to beating the team that ended up getting second at state last year," Heidemann said. "It proved to us that we could get to that point and that made us work harder in the off season because we knew what we had to work on to get to that point."

Jurgens said her team's work in the off season was what propelled the Griffins to a state title.

"These girls work hard in the summer," Jurgens said. "They play club ball and then when they're done with club ball, they're right back in the gym and off to camps. They committed themselves to volleyball, so it's really nice to see something like this come true for them."

Diller-Odell unveiled their brand new gymnasium at the beginning of the volleyball season and soon that facility will be hanging a new championship banner.

"It will be nice to finally hang one that doesn't say 'runner-up' behind it," Jurgens said laughing. "It's exciting."


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