Coming off back-to-back appearances in the state title game and a slew of state appearances over the past decade, the sectional final must seem like old hat for the Muskego girls volleyball program.
The Warriors’ celebration showed that clinching a trip to state was still meaningful Saturday night, even if the performance looked like a team completely undaunted by the big stage. The Warriors dismissed West Allis Hale in the sectional final, 25-15, 25-19, 25-15.
“It never gets old,” said senior Mary O’Connor, who played in last year’s state championship match and finished with a team-high 10 kills against the Huskies. “We were together for five hours earlier today, and it was to mentally prepare for this big match. We knew it was going to be a tough match.”
Once Muskego grabbed ahold with a 15-5 lead in the opening set, the top-seeded Warriors looked fully prepared. The Warriors will make the familiar voyage to the Resch Center in Green Bay with a Division 1 quarterfinal match at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, meeting either West Bend East or Fond du Lac.
“We’ve had our struggles all year,” Muskego coach Karen Anderson said. “We’ve been an up and down team and it was just getting the point where I just don’t know if I’ll be able to pull them out of this. Two weeks ago, all of a sudden, things started to click. We’re playing the best we’ve played all year right now, by a longshot. I didn’t need to worry about peaking too soon.”
A Southeast Conference tournament title represented a turning point for Muskego.
“We just couldn’t finish,” said senior libero Chelsea Lallemont, who racked up 18 digs in a standout performance at home Saturday. “We went to the Illinois tournament and did just awful, and we got back and said, ‘OK, we were not doing this (falling apart). We want to go to state, this is our dream.’ The conference tournament, we clicked, but we haven't peaked yet.”
Hale was led by Erin Barbeau, who finished with 9 kills. Hale, seeded third, outlasted both Greater Metro Conference foes that finished ahead of it in the regular season.
“We were really fortunate this year because we had a lot of seniors this year who gave good leadership,” coach Angie Hardwick said. “Muskego is obviously a very good team. They’ve got size. They were able to contain us with the block and never let us get into an offense.”
Laura Felker added seven kills, and Kayla Bluemel had six for the Warriors.
“”It’s a team for sure that has to do it by committee,” Anderson said. “We have a lot of girls who have really stepped up.”