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Toppers block Black Hawks playoff path
SWBH VB Wellnitz spike
BLACK HAWK middle hitter Jen Wellnitz (#3) knocked down a match-high 23 kills in the Warriors 3-2 come-from-behind victory over Williams Bay on Tuesday, Oct. 18.

    BURLINGTON – Once again, Black Hawk’s path through the state volleyball playoffs got blocked by the team from Catholic Central.
    The top-ranked Hilltoppers (34-9 overall) used a balanced attack to sweep the #4-seeded Lady Warriors, 25-9, 25-10, 25-17, in a WIAA Division 4 regional semifinal contest at CCHS on Thursday, Oct. 20.
    “It seems a bit unfair that we have to meet up with them every year and so early, but in order to be the best you have to beat the best,” said Black Hawk head coach Rachel Wolff after her team got knocked out of the playoffs by the Hilltoppers for the fourth time in the last five years. “They are a very strong and well-polished team that doesn’t make very many mistakes. That makes it hard to get any momentum going against a team like that.”
    Thursday’s match marked the final prep appearance on the volleyball court for seniors Kate Quinn, Kayla Meier, Chaesta Shager, Liz Bauer and Katie Powers.
    “It is hard to say anything to them. They have put in so much time and effort that a few words cannot sum up their commitment and dedication to the program,” stated Wolff.
    “I think that the girls did a great job of superseding the expectations that people had of them at the beginning of the season. To be the only team to beat the conference champs and to be fighting for second place in the conference the very last match of the season says a lot. I am very proud of their accomplishments.”
    At South Wayne, on Tuesday, Oct. 13, Black Hawk opened the playoffs with a thrilling 3-2 come-from-behind decision over #5-seed Williams Bay.
    The Warriors (11-13) began the night with a 25-18 win over the visitors, but the Bulldogs fired back with wins of 25-21 and 27-25 to grab a 2-1 advantage.
    Coach Wolff’s squad deadlocked the match a 2-2 with a 27-25 win in set four, then took down the Bulldogs by a score of 17-15 in the decisive fifth set to nab the victory.
    “The girls worked hard. It was very evenly matched, but we minimized our errors and capitalized on theirs to get the win,” explained Wolff.
    Jen Wellnitz led the Warriors with 23 kills, four blocks and an ace. Kate Quinn added 11 kills and three blocks, while Abby Schiferl chipped in with 13 digs, six kills and three aces.
    Chaesta Shager handed out a team-high 20 assists to go along with five digs and three aces, and Kelly Neuenschwander provided 12 assists, six digs and an ace. Mikayla Sigafus added eight digs for the Warriors.
Black Hawk………   9     10     17
Catholic Central… 25     25     25

Williams Bay… 18   25   27   25   15
Black Hawk….. 25   21   25   27   17

Southwestern 3, Darlington 0
    HAZEL GREEN – Everything was coming up aces for the SWAL co-champion Southwestern Wildcats in Tuesday’s tournament opener.
    The #2-seeded Wildcats fired up 19 service aces as a team to sink the #8-seeded Darlington Redbirds, 3-0, in a WIAA Division 3 regional quarterfinal volleyball match at SHS on Oct. 18.
    “It’s always hard when you play a conference team during your first round playoff game. Throw in the fact that the team is a co-conference champion, I think it’s safe to say that played a little mind game on the girls,” Darlington head coach Pam Ritchie stated. “We had a very hard time in serve-receive and also with just plain talking on the floor. That has been an issue all season.”
    Senior Rachel Haugen, who won 27 of her 28 service points with nine aces on the night, kick started the hosts’ assault at the line in game one by reeling off 17 straight points with six aces to turn a 4-1 lead into a 21-1 advantage on the way to a 25-2 win in set one.
    Middle hitter Katelyn Hoppman added six of her game-high 18 kills and had a block for the ‘Cats in set one.
    The Wildcats kept up the pressure in set two with a 25-3 decision, and the hosts rolled to a 25-12 win in set three with sophomore Kelsey Batteram firing home the Wildcats’ 19th ace for the game-winner to finish off the sweep of the Redbirds (4-14-2 overall).
    Junior Cassidy Cox recorded three kills in set three to lead the way for the ‘Birds. Alexa Hardyman provided three digs and junior setter Cassidy Chambers tallied four assists for Darlington.
    Senior setter Molly Wubben distributed 25 assists for Southwestern.
    “As for the team, this season has been a rough one.  It’s not easy to work hard in practice to go out to compete and lose game after game. That begins to take a toll on the girls,” commented Ritchie. “But, I saw some real growth from many of the juniors and would like for that growth to continue during the off-season. My advice to them is to go to as many camps as possible and to keep their hands on the volleyball.”
    Playing their final prep match for DHS on Tuesday were seniors Haily McGowan, Laura Steiner, Emily Salathe, Brianna Reichling and Vanessa Andrews.
    “The senior girls worked super hard at trying to create some chemistry on the team. They also were the leaders on and off the court. They pushed their team to stay up and positive when things weren’t going our way. They are a great bunch of young ladies and their effort will be missed next year,” said Ritchie.

Darlington……..   2        3      12    
Southwestern…  25      25      25

Barneveld 3, Belmont 1
    BARNEVELD – Barneveld showed home is where the heart is by bouncing the visitng Belmont Braves, 3-1, in a WIAA Division 4 regional quarterfinal volleyball match at Barneveld High School on Tuesday, Oct. 18.
    The #4-seeded Golden Eagles got off to a fast start by taking the first two games, 25-22 and 25-13, of the night.
    Facing elimination, the #5-seeded Lady Braves (4-17 overall rec.) kept their season alive with a 25-13 win in set three, but the rally ran out of steam from there as Barneveld rebounded with a 25-13 decision of their own to finish off the match.
    “We came out strong in game one and then got into a little trouble on serve receive, which brought us down mentally. We stopped communicating and started hesitating,” explained Belmont head coach Megan Richardson. “We came back strong in game three and gave the fight for our life. We just couldn’t pull it together mentally. It’s hard to come back when you are down 2-0. They played hard and I’m very proud of them.”
    Danielle Straubhaar had 22 assists and nine digs for the Eagles, who fell 3-1 to top-seeded Wonewoc-Center in Thursday’s regional semifinal.
    Sophomore Jordyn Kamps tallied nine kills to lead Belmont in the match, while senior Kailee Kamps registered 24 digs and 16 assists for the guests. Junior Cassie McCarthy added four service aces and two blocks for the Braves.
    “It was an up and down season for us. When we came to play, we could play with the best,” Richardson noted. “Again, I did ask a lot of them. We were running lots of plays, something they are not used to, but they listened and became much better all-around athletes. I would say they understand the game of volleyball much better and play much more confidently, which was our goal.” 
    Playing their final prep match for BHS on Tuesday were seniors Makenzie Kamps, Molly Bockhop, Loren Adams, Hannah Rand, Emily Cushman and Kailee Kamps.
    “The seniors led this team. They came out ready to play and were great role models for the younger classmen. They showed the willingness to work hard and the desire to get better. I wish them the best for what their future holds. They will be truly missed,” said Richardson.

Belmont…… 22    12    25   13
Barneveld… 25    25    13   25

River Ridge 3, Shullsburg 0
    PATCH GROVE – Senior middle hitter Traci Kirschbaum pounded down 12 kills and added seven blocks to guide top-seeded River Ridge to a 3-0 sweep over the #8-seeded Shullsburg Miners in a WIAA Division 4 regional quarterfinal volleyball match at RRHS on Tuesday, Oct. 18.
    “It was a tough match for us. River Ridge has a solid team and is playing very well together right now. Kirschbaum does a nice job finding our holes, and she has so much power behind her hits,” said Shullsburg head coach Elizabeth Timm.
    The Timberwolves stormed out and took set one by a score of 25-6, then posted wins of 25-18 and 25-20 to earn their third sweep over the Miners (5-13-2 overall rec.) this season.
    “We struggled to communicate. In the second and third sets, the girls adjusted well, started to communicate better and took care of the ball,” Timm noted.
    Holly Rennert led the Miners with seven kills and Molly Blackbourn registered two blocks on the night, while Blaire Lutes had 17 digs and Stephanie Roberts handed out nine assists.
    Morgan McComish added 16 digs, six assists and two service aces for the Miners.
    “Our season was filled with ups and downs. We struggled with working together on the court. The girls now know how important it is to be a team player. I feel they all got something out of the season even though it went so fast,” said Timm.
    Playing their final prep match for SHS on Tuesday were seniors Shelby Walton, Anna Doyle-Chandler, Morgan McComish, Carla Moldenhauer and Molly Blackbourn.
    “This senior class is a great group of young ladies. They enjoy having fun, give everything they have in practice, on the court and in the classroom. They will be missed.”

Shullsburg….   6      18      20    
River Ridge… 25      25      25