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Trojans headed to state

The North Crawford volleyball team out-hustled a very talented Cochrane-Fountain City team to win the Division 4 Sectional Championship at Onalaska Luther High School last Saturday night.

Mackenzie Swiggum may have played the game of a lifetime and that’s saying something pretty special for the talented senior outside hitter. Mackenzie recorded 12 kills, served 17-17 with two aces, had 38 digs and led the team in serve receives with 23. Despite Mackenzie’s outstanding performance, it was a super team effort by the Trojans that swept away the Pirates in just four games.

After North Crawford won the first two games by scores of 25-22 and 25-16, the Trojans stumbled a bit in the third game allowing Cochrane-Fountain City to win it 25-20.

North Crawford turned up the heat again in the fourth and final game of the match, which they won 25-18. The match point came appropriately enough on a block kill by Natasha Swiggum. As is often the case this season, Natasha’s team-high 11 blocks frustrated the Pirates all evening. Aubrey Stevenson had five blocks.

Trojan volleyball coach Anna Davidson explained the strong blocks provided Natasha and Aubrey, in addition to the blocking efforts of sophomores Emily Peterson and Haley Nelson, aid the defense by funneling balls to certain areas on the floor.

“Tasha and Haley blocking in the middle present a real force to be reckoned with,” Davidson noted.

The Trojans’ team effort on every point to keep the ball in play and return it simply wore down the Pirates. It seemed on every spike, return or tip that Cochrane-Fountain City sent over the net, there was a hand or a diving North Crawford player to bring up the ball.

A lot of that was reflected in the 137 digs that the team recorded. Mackenzie led the team in digs with 38 and much more.

Offensively, the Trojans kept the Pirates off balance by laying off spikes with soft tips or dumps just over the net or returns directly from setter Bailey Stevenson just when the Pirates were expecting sets to the hitters.

While the Trojans effort was truly outstanding, there was also a very real demonstration of talent in all phases of the game. The victory was in fact a tour de force of volleyball talent for the Trojans.  It was a culmination of years of practice and many, many club games played in the off-season. It was a team effort that involved two sets of sisters on the floor as starters in senior hitter Mackenzie Swiggum and her sister junior hitter Natasha Swiggum, as well as senior hitter Aubrey Stevenson and her sister Bailey Stevenson, the junior hitter.

It was also an effort by two seniors coming back from injury-plagued junior years as Mackenzie and Samantha Troxel both played the entire year after dealing with knee injuries last year. Finally, it was an effort that involved the input from two talented sophomores being added to this year’s starting roster with the addition of Haley Nelson and Emily Peterson. And of course, there was supportive bench that included senior Victoria Spencer, sophomore Joe Collins and freshmen Sydney Stevenson, Maggie Schellhorn, Mattie Barr and Rebecca Spencer.

Winning the sectional championship qualified North Crawford to compete in the WIAA Volleyball State Championship in Green Bay this Friday, Nov. 8. The Trojans are scheduled to face Clayton High School in the state semi-final on Friday in Resch Arena at 10:30 a.m. If the Trojans can prevail over the Clayton Bears, they will play for the WIAA Division 4 State Volleyball Championship on Saturday, Nov. 9 at 9 a.m. Should the Trojans make the championship game, they will face the winner of the Neumann Catholic Central-Hilbert game?also played on Friday morning.