MCDONALD'S SWNEWS4U.COM GAME OF THE WEEK (Oct. 27–Nov. 3)
WIAA DIVISION 3 VOLLEYBALL: Cuba City 3, #8 Brodhead 2
by Tom Gunnell, Tri-County Press/Republican Journal
BRODHEAD — The Cubans advanced to Saturday’s WIAA Division 3 sectional final by upsetting #8-ranked Brodhead in five sets 13–25, 27–25, 19–25, 26–24, 17–15, in a thrilling five-set sectional semifinal showdown at Brodhead High School on Thursday, Oct. 28.
The #2-seeded Cubans used wins of 27–25 in set two and 26–24 in set four to force a decisive fifth, and then rallied from an early 6–1 deficit to outlast the top-seeded Cardinals (36–8) for a wild 3–2 decision.
“We were underdogs and they knew it," said Cuba City head coach Keri Lawson. "We talked about it. We were led by our five seniors who showed how much they wanted a chance to go to state. We went back to what worked well for us. We went back to scraping balls up and we figured out how to play the right defense in the back row. We also served well when we had to serve."
In the fifth set, the Cubans took an early 1–0 lead on a kill by freshman Ella Vosberg, but the Cardinals used a kill by Abbie Dix to tie the score at 1–1 and earn the serve. Onnikah Oliver tallied three aces during a five-point run to put the hosts ahead 6–1.
The Cubans would not go away fighting back to tie the match at 9–9, 10–10, 11–11, 13–13, 14–14, and 15–15. A Dix kill gave the Cardinals their last lead at 15–14, but an out-of-bounce tip attempt tied the match at 15–15.
An ace by Stich put the Cubans in front 16–15. Following a timeout, Stich served to the Cardinals. A spike attempt by Kirsten Fish nearly found the court, but a last-second diving save by Stich kept the ball in play and Neis bumped it back over to the Cardinals.
Alexis Kammerer looked to set up Addison Yates for the game-tying kill, but Yates slipped on her approach and her hit went into the net igniting a Cubans’ celebration as they pulled off the upset with a 17–15 win.
“Brodhead’s a very, very good team, They are strong all the way around,” said Lawson. “I don’t know there history with going five sets, but our kids have played a lot of long matches and I think that helped in the end. All the sets that were close could have gone either way. There was just something working for us today. We fought hard and did not give up after that first set.”
Stich finished the night with a team-high 25 kills and four aces. Vosberg tallied 13 kills and five blocks, while sophomore setter Ella McKinley distributed 39 assists. Camry Neis led the Cubans with 14 digs and junior libero Ella Taylor added 12 digs.
“Hailey’s a gamer. We just had to feed her the ball," said Lawson. "She’s not going to go down without taking a swing at it. They didn’t have an answer for her. We got out of Hailey what we should have and we got a little bit extra out of some other players to pull off the upset.”
Dix pounded down 32 kills and added six blocks for the Cardinals, who swept the Cubans, 2-0, at the Edgerton Invitational earlier in the season.
Yates provided 14 kills and McKenna Young had 11 kills. Kaidynce Bevars recorded nine service aces and a team-high 16 digs, while Oliver had four aces and Kammerer handed out 66 assists.
• Second-ranked Lake Country Lutheran used a powerful front row attack to sweep away the Cubans, 25-8, 25-13, 25-13, in a WIAA Division 3 sectional final match held at Waterloo High School on Saturday, Oct. 30.
Playing in their final prep match for the Cubans were seniors Camry Neis, Hailey Stich, Paige Beau, Breeann Kraus and Carly Bowden.
“These five seniors were the heart and soul of this year’s team. They brought in experience from last spring and led our group throughout the summer. Each senior contributed to our success on and off the court. I’m happy that they experienced a SWAL conference title, a regional title and just an overall impressive season. They will be missed but sure left an imprint on Cuba City volleyball,” said Lawson.
WIAA D3 SECTIONAL SEMIFINAL
Cuba City…… 13 27 19 26 17
Brodhead…… 25 25 25 24 15
CC Leaders– Kills: Hailey Stich 25, Ella Vosberg 13. Blocks: Vosberg 5. Aces: Stich 4. Assists: Ella McKinley 39. Digs: Camry Neis 14, Ella Taylor 12.
At Brodhead on Thursday, Oct. 28
WIAA D3 SECTIONAL FINAL
Lake Country.. 25 25 25
Cuba City……. 8 13 13
CC Leaders– Kills: Paige Beau 23, Ella Vosberg 10. Blocks: Vosberg 2. Aces: Ella Taylor 3. Assists: Ella McKinley 43. Digs: Paige Beau 18, Stich 16.
At Waterloo on Saturday, Oct. 30