ASHWAUBENON — Coach Jenny Krauklis could see it in the eyes of her Lakeside Lutheran girls volleyball players during the 2016 WIAA Division 2 state tournament.
They were nervous. Almost scared.
On Friday afternoon, though, there was no hint of hesitation. Lakeside swept three-time defending state champion Waukesha Catholic Memorial 25-20, 25-19, 25-20 in a Division 2 semifinal at the Resch Center.
All the Warriors could do at state last year was chalk up their four-set semifinal loss to Green Bay Notre Dame to experience — and draw on that for strength this time.
“Coming here before, being here just gets you so much more determined since we lost the last time we were here that we were not going to let that happen this time,” Lakeside senior Kaitlyn Gehler said.
The fourth-ranked Warriors (38-5) will meet fifth-ranked Luxemburg-Casco (41-8) at 2 p.m. today in the championship match.On Friday, the Warriors jumped on the Crusaders early and rarely let their foot off the accelerator.
“This year, they came in here ready to own it,” Krauklis said. “So, rather than being nervous and scared, they were pumped up and ready to just own the court when they went out.
“Experience played a big role in that.”
Lakeside Lutheran, a state runner-up in 2000 still looking for its first state title, defeated a young Catholic Memorial squad 2-0 in the Kettle Moraine Lutheran Invitational earlier in the season.
“Credit to Lakeside, they played very well,” Catholic Memorial coach Ted Schulte said. “We had, I thought, a reasonably good game plan. But they executed very well. And our game plan didn’t quite get the job done.”
Lakeside had terrific offensive balance all match, producing four players with five or more kills. That versatility proved difficult for Catholic Memorial to stop.
“That’s the best part about our team,” Krauklis said. “You see these girls that are up here on this stage (Gehler, senior Amber Rowoldt and senior Ellie Westrate), but if you turn around and look at the girls that are behind (you), every single one of them contributes in some way. And it has been that team cohesiveness throughout the whole entire year that has gotten us this far.”
Lakeside was up 18-17 in the first set and played well down the stretch to pull out the victory. The Warriors never trailed in the second, getting a kill from junior Kaitlyn Shadoski and a service ace from senior Sophia Collins to end the set.
Catholic Memorial (30-22) jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the third set. Rowoldt tallied one of her match-high 19 kills to tie it at 13. The Crusaders pulled within 22-20, but the Warriors closed out the match with the final three points.
“We had some moments where we weren’t necessarily playing our best volleyball, but they were kind of able to overcome that, come back,” Krauklis said. “I think in the third set when we were down by quite a few points. In a timeout huddle the girls just said, ‘We need to turn this around and we need to play with heart.’ And they went back out there and they did exactly that.”Earning a trip to the state championship match is satisfying for Rowoldt, a four-year starter headed for Division II Palm Beach Atlantic University next year.
“We’ve had many tough games in the past and just to be able to get here is a great feeling, and to do it with this group of girls is even better,” Rowoldt said. “We have that mentality that we’re going to go and nothing’s going to stop us. And no matter what, if we give it our all and lay it all out there we can’t be upset with the outcome.
“With hard work we made it, but we’re not done.”
Waukesh Catholic Memorial 20 19 20
Lakeside Lutheran 25 25 25
WAUKESHA CATHOLIC MEMORIAL (leaders): Kills (29) — Brim 9, Clausen 6, Crain 5, Dragani 4. Assists (28) — Dragani 14, Mirsberger 13. Digs (65) — Kujawa 17, Dragani 10, Halcomb 8. Blocks (3) — Riley 1.5. Aces (4) — Dragani 2, Mirsberger 2. Attack pct. — .056.
LAKESIDE LUTHERAN: Kills (42) — Rowoldt 19, Collins 6, Westrate 5, Birschbach 5, Shadoski 4, Collins 3. Assists (41) — Westrate 32, Gehler 6. Digs (67) — Gehler 25, Collins 16, Westrate 14, Rowoldt 7. Blocks (3) — Collins 2, Rowoldt 1. Aces (5) — Westrate 1, Collins 1, Rowoldt 1, Collins 1, Gehler 1. Attack pct. — .222.