What happened? The powerful North Crawford volleyball team seemed to lose their way in a semifinal game in the WIAA Division 4 State Tournament in Green Bay, losing to Clayton High School 25-9, 25-16, 25-17.
First-year coach Anna Davidson seemed as perplexed by the turn of events as everyone else.
“I’m still trying to figure it out,” Davidson said Monday.
En route to the state tournament, the Trojans seemed to simply destroy every team they faced. In the three regional matches, North Crawford ran the table, winning nine games and losing none. It wasn’t much different in the two sectional matches, where the Trojans won six games and lost just one.
However, things were completely different when they faced the Clayton Bears at the Resch Center in Green Bay Friday morning.
It got off to a good enough start for the Trojans. Both teams trading points in the first game with the score tied 8-8. Then, it happened. Suddenly, everything fell apart around them and North Crawford lost the first game 25-9. The Bears outscored the Trojans on a 17-1 run.
“The girls were pretty shell-shocked,” Davidson recalled later. “We simply didn’t play our game. We were not playing up to our potential. It should’ve been a good matchup (with Clayton).”
Perhaps the big game atmosphere of the Resch Center was a little more than the Trojans were ready for on Friday morning.
For whatever reason, North Crawford struggled with Clayton the way they hadn’t struggled with a team for most of the year. Of particular concern was Clayton’s middle hitter McKenna Cardinal who terrorized the Trojans through the entire match.
One problem for North Crawford was Cardinal’s quick swing which through off the blockers, according to Davidson. This caused the blockers to mistime their jumps. Cardinal was effectively beating the Trojan blockers and finding wide-open spots.
The Trojans didn’t help their own cause as they committed quite a few uncharacteristic errors in almost every phase of the game.
Nevertheless, there were a few strong moments in the second and third game where it began to look like the team might rally, but it was never quite enough.
A bright spot later in the match was the play of junior Natasha Swiggum. Davidson singled out the junior hitter for “stepping up as a leader who pulled the team together in the third game.”
Despite the disappointment of the semifinal loss, Davidson was thankful for her chance to coach the team through a very successful season.
“It was quite a season,” Davidson said looking back over the last couple of months.
“It was my first year (coaching) and it was pretty crazy,” Davidson said. “Each day there was something new. I think it will only get easier from here on out. It was really hard to get the girls to let their guard down with me.”
Next year, Davidson is hoping the younger girls will be playing stronger and step in to fill the shoes of the departing seniors. She’s also looking forward to the return of Natasha Swiggum and the leadership the coach believes she can provide to the team.
“It’s been a great season.” I was blessed with having a very athletic and talented team coming in for the first year. It was great to have the feeling we did. And I’m really looking forward to next year.”
For the WIAA Division 4 Semifinal Volleyball Match, the Trojans were led in kills by Mackenzie and Natasha Swiggum with six each. Aubrey Stevenson had four kills and Bailey Stevenson had three kills. Sophomores Haley Nelson and Emily Peterson each recorded two kills.
The Trojans were led behind the line by Peterson who was 10-10 with an ace. Natasha was 7-7 with two aces. Mackenzie 9-10, Aubrey was 7-8 and Samantha Troxel 6-7.
Mackenzie Swiggum led the team in digs with 14.
Natasha led the team in blocks with six, Aubrey had TWO and Haley Nelson and Mackenzie each had one.