Cyza leads West to all-star volleyball win

Mark Rein

Emersen Cyza’s double-double of 17 kills and 19 digs helped power the West to a 25-20, 25-14, 27-29, 25-20, 15-8 win over the East during the 35th West Nebraska All-Star Volleyball Match on Saturday afternoon at Western Nebraska Community College in Scottsbluff.

Cyza, who is headed to the University of Wyoming to continue her volleyball career, earned the West’s Most Valuable Player honor. Her older sister, Kennedy, was awarded the same honor four years ago.

“Kennedy has taught me everything I have known about volleyball, so it is an honor to play under her,” Emersen Cyza said. “My first memory of playing volleyball was peppering with her and she gave me a bloody nose. It is just little things like that. I have looked up to her my whole life.”

Cyza said getting the win capped off an enjoyable experience for her this week.

“This week has been so much fun. I met some amazing people that I want to keep in my life forever, so it is a really good blessing and I have been working hard for it,” she said. “This weekend was tough. It was tiring and my body is tired, but I am going to get up and go back to work.”

Cyza said it was amazing to play with all the talent that joined her on the victorious West team.

“The talent is amazing,” she said. “I played with some of them in club, but there were so many that I never played with and I got the opportunity to play with since I was always across the net from them. It is nice to have them on my side.”

Cyza has one more all-star contest left in July. She’ll compete in the Nebraska Coaches Association match in Lincoln before she heads off to Laramie, Wyoming, for college.

“It was emotional [playing in western Nebraska one last time],” she said. “It will be hard not to have the regular fans in the crowd, but I somehow have to get through it and I will miss them. This is home.”

The East MVP honor went to Cody-Kilgore’s Addison Johnson, who led the East with seven kills. Johnson also tallied six digs. Johnson said it was fun playing in the all-star game.

“This was a great opportunity that I don’t think any of the girls take for granted,” Johnson said. “We are blessed to be here and it definitely was one of the highs of my life.”

Cyza said the West had a lot of talent on the roster and they needed that depth to overcome an East squad that came ready to play.

“I think we played great. The East played a great game and they really put up big blocks on us. It was tough at times for us to get a good attack,” Cyza said. “We played an amazing game. Our setters and diggers and servers, and everyone on the bench did a great job of keeping us high and keeping us intense.”

Johnson said her East team started slow.

“We were a little timid going into it,” she said. “After that we started finding our pace and started playing our game.”

The opening set started out close before Hershey’s Emily Barr went back to serve up nine straight points for a 12-3 West lead.

The second set saw the East lead 5-4 early. Anderson later served seven straight points to help the West move out to a 16-8 lead. The West put things away as Bayard’s Kylie Stuart had an ace serve and then Anderson pounded home the winning point.

The East took control of the third set by running out to a 6-3 lead behind four Johnson serves and later led 18-12. The West battled back as Sutherland’s Erica Hopping served four points. Sidney’s Payton Jung put down a kill to bring the West within 20-19.

The West went ahead 25-24 on two Anderson points, but the East fought back to grab the set 29-27.

The fourth set showed the talent and will power of both teams. The West took a 14-7 lead after five points from Mitchell’s Anabelle Gillen along with three kills from Cyza.

The East managed to close back within 23-20, but Channing Holm stopped the East rally with a kill. Stuart served the final point as Katelyn Sylvester of Sidney hammered home the match winner.

In addition to Cyza, several players finished with double-double efforts. For the West, Gillen had 11 points, 25 set assists, eight digs, and two ace serves, while Sylvester had 15 set assists, six digs, and five points.

Also for the West, Lauren Gasseling had three digs, five kills and two points; Lily Fair had 19 digs; Carstyn Hageman had 23 digs; Payton Jung had 11 kills and 12 digs; Erica Hopping had seven points and nine set assists; Holm had 26 digs and six kills; Anderson had four kills, nine points, and 23 digs; Keyana Wilfred had seven kills and four digs; Stuart had 12 digs, four kills, and six points; and Emily Barr had eight kills, 10 points, two aces, and 13 digs.

Johnson led the East with her seven kills, nine points, and six digs.

Also for the East, Hayley Homan had five kills and 14 digs; Alysen Daniels had six digs, two kills, and two points; Abbie Hedgecock had seven set assists and four digs; Jayceea Hanson had four blocks; Kaelie Tomlin had five points, 13 digs, and 12 set assists; Aley Beisner had four digs and two points; Sydnee Saliach had four points and seven digs; Macey Widick had three points and nine digs; Courtney Rice had four points and three solo blocks; Alison Bauer had six kills, three points, and nine digs; and Adrianna Hill had six points and 12 digs.

Earning the sportsmanship honors were Mackenzie Anderson of the West and Courtney Rice of the East. Scholarship winners were the East’s Jayceea Hanson and the West’s Erica Hopping.