Gutty Greenfield made things difficult, but in the end, the Muskego girls volleyball team earned a return trip to next week’s WIAA Division 1 state tournament.
The Warriors downed the tenacious Hustlin’ Hawks, 25-23, 25-11, 25-22, in a sectional championship match before a large crowd at Greenfield High School on Saturday night.
The victory sent Muskego back to the state tourney at the Resch Center in Green Bay beginning Thursday, Nov. 1. The Warriors will meet Merrill at 4:30 p.m. in a quarterfinal matchup. Other first-round contests have Neenah vs. Divine Savior Holy Angels, Sun Prairie vs. Menomonee Falls and DePere vs. Burlington, the defending champion.
Muskego is quite familiar with the road to state. This is the 12th trip in school history, the ninth under head coach Karen Anderson and the fifth straight.
The Warriors won state crowns in 2005 and 2009, and they lost in the quarterfinals last season to eventual runnerup Fond du Lac.
“It’s really exciting,” said junior Jordan Wachowiak. “This is my third year, and we’ve gone to state all three years I’ve been here. This is the most exciting one for me, because our team was so underestimated.
“We really wanted to do it for our seniors this year, because it means the world to them.”
One of those seniors, Kelly Spoerk, said, “It feels amazing. All of us worked so hard for it, and we wanted it so badly.”
Greenfield, though, was able to stay right with Muskego in the first and third sets. The Hustlin’ Hawks held a 13-9 lead on a kill by junior Jessie Kalous midway through the first contest, but the Warriors ran off six straight points to assume a 15-13 advantage.
Greenfield came back to tie the set four times, the last at 21-21 on a kill from sophomore Sam Deleon.
Muskego senior Mary O’Connor put down three kills for a 24-22 lead, then junior Kayla Bluemel slapped down the game-winning point.
“Thanks to Morgan (sophomore setter Morgan Kath), who was working hard,” O’Connor said. “I really wanted those points.”
Muskego dominated the second game, going on a 6-0 run to take a 14-5 advantage and coasting from there. O’Connor closed things out with another late trio of kills.
“We have had trouble with that second game, which is something we need to work on, staying focused,” Greenfield head coach Britany Pfeifer said.
The Hawks bounced back and held a 14-11 lead in the third game, but Muskego again answered, tying matters at 15-15 on back-to-back kills from Bluemel.
The game was still even at 22-22 when Muskego scored the final three points, with junior Lauren Kudronowicz serving an ace and Kath dropping a kill at the net.
O’Connor totaled 13 kills and Bluemel six, while Kath finished with 30 assists, Wachowiak four blocks and junior Michelle Fugarino 14 digs and three aces.
“The thing that’s so great about these kids,” Anderson said, “is that this was just a total team victory. Everybody participated, and that’s what we have to have. Mary did some great stuff and other kids did some really nice stuff as well. We don’t have that one stud; we need everybody to help, and everybody did tonight.”
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