Sutherland got on top of Paxton in every set on Tuesday night and the Lady Sailors kept the pressure on to sweep the Tigers in the subdistrict finals at North Platte St. Pat's."I think our girls did a good job in getting ahead," Sutherland coach Valerie Kershner said on the 25-17, 25-15, 25-14 win. "Paxton stayed strong (after our initial runs) but our girls did a good job of staying composed."
The Sailors (23-6), who are one match away from qualifying for the state tournament for the third straight year, got out to a 5-1 lead in the first set after a kill by Kelsey Dillenburg. The lead then ballooned to 11-3 after Sam Kennedy served for three straight plays.
Paxton (20-6) fought back. Emma Holz served for five straight points to bring the Lady Tigers to within 13-9. They were able to tie at 14 after Bailey Schow made a kill.
But Sutherland regained the lead when Dillenburg made another kill. Then Kristen Nelson served for an ace and Schow hit the ball out for a 17-14 Sailor lead and the Tigers didn't get any closer.
The Lady Sailors took control right away in the second set, as well. Kennedy made a kill and a block on consecutive plays for a 6-1 lead and Sutherland never really looked back. The Sailors led by as much as 10 before going up two sets to none.
Sutherland scored the first five points of the third with Haley Baxter serving and Kennedy and Dillenburg making plays at the net.
Down to its final set of the season, Paxton tried to close the gap immediately. The Lady Tigers came within 6-4. But it wasn't long before the Sailors distanced themselves again.
Sutherland took a lead of 13-7 after a block by Kennedy and from there, the Lady Sailors kept the lead at around that margin before finishing off Paxton for good.
Kershner said that the Tigers brought all they had but her team handled it well.
"You can't ever count out Paxton, they always play tough," she said. "But our girls just never let up."
After winning the D1-11 subdistrict, Sutherland will play for the district title on Thursday against the winner of Potter-Dix and Creek Valley.
Even if the Sailors were to fall in the D1-6 finals, they are likely assured of a berth at state with a No. 2 ranking in the NSAA Power Point rankings.