CUBA CITY – After winning regional titles in their four previous seasons, the Cuba City Cubans’ volleyball team missed out on adding another title the program’s dynasty last year when they lost to SWAL rival Iowa-Grant in the regional championship game.
This year’s team wasn’t about to let that happen to them again, especially not on their home floor.
The #3-ranked and top-seeded Lady Cubans (30-6 overall) captured a 2017 regional crown with a dominating three-set sweep over the #5-seeded Darlington Redbirds, 25-16, 25-20, 25-8, in a WIAA Division 3 regional final match held at CCHS on Saturday, Oct. 21.
“We came in ready to play. We missed out on it last year, so those kids who were juniors and sophomores last year were going after it tonight,” said Cuba City head coach Keri Lawson. “Darlington came in confident after upsetting Brodhead on Thursday. I knew they would come in hungry. I feel we picked on them in places, and we pushed what we prepared to do. It worked for us tonight.”
The Redbirds (18-7) opened up an early 2-0 lead and were still up by a score of 12-11 when the Cubans’ got a sideout on a push-kill by sophomore Kiera Holzemer, who was filling in for injured senior Keisha Cummings after she rolled her ankle in the tournament opener on Tuesday.
“I’m really proud of how our kids adjusted to the rotation changes. They stuck to what we like to do. They executed the way we’re supposed to and, for the most part, everybody did their job tonight,” Lawson noted.
Junior Elizabeth Misky stepped to the service line and served up five straight points with junior Brinley Wood registering three kills during the run to put the hosts up 17-12.
Senior Mykenzie Vaassen added a six-point service run to put the Cubans up 24-14 in set one, and senior Megan Hartl hammered down the game-ending kill to put the team up 1-0.
“When we have certain servers at the line, we try pushing for points,” replied Lawson.
Darlington grabbed the lead early in set two as well, but the Cubans stormed back to open up a 22-14 advantage. The ‘Birds cut the deficit down to 24-20 on back-to-back kills by Casey Glendenning, however a well-placed tip kill by Holzemer gave the Cubans a 25-20 win and a 2-0 lead.
The Cubans bolted out to a quick 5-0 lead in set three thanks to two aces by sophomore Kayla Stich and two more kills by Wood. That lead swelled to 21-6 on an eight-point service run by Misky, and the Cubans cruised to the sweep behind a 25-8 decision.
Wood finished with 11 kills, five blocks and two aces, while Vaassen recorded 10 kills and 10 digs and Hartl chipped in with 20 digs and seven kills for Cuba City.
Junior setter Courtney Busch tallied 29 assists along with 11 digs, and junior Cassie Murray added 12 digs in the match.
The Cubans advanced to sectional play on Thursday, Oct. 26, where they will face the Waterloo Pirates (19-8) in a D3 sectional semifinal contest at Mineral Point High School, starting at 7 p.m.
“It’s going to get real this week. Waterloo is probably the best team in our sectional with their ability to do what they do. We’re excited. We’ve won two championships this year and would like to win some more,” said Lawson.
The winner moves to Saturday’s sectional final match at Dodgeland High School against the winner of the Thursday’s other semifinal match between Winnebago Lutheran Academy (22-10) and Fond du Lac Saint Mary’s Springs (17-11). Saturday’s starting time is also set for 7 p.m.
Cuba City opened the playoffs with a pair of 3-0 victories in regional matches against New Glarus and Marshall at CCHS last week.
The Cubans vanquishedthe Glarner Knights, 25-12, 25-12, 25-11, in a quarterfinal match on Tuesday, Oct. 17, and then flew by the Cardinals, 25-14, 25-15, 25-11, in a semifinal match on Thursday, Oct. 19.
Wood had 16 kills and two blocks against New Glarus and tallied 13 kills, 11 digs, two blocks and two aces against Marshall.
Busch dished out 29 assists in each match and had five aces on Tuesday, while Hartl had 11 kills and 11 digs on Tuesday night and 12 digs and five kills on Thursday.
WIAA D3 REGIONAL FINAL
Darlington…….. 16 20 8
Cuba City……… 25 25 25
CC Leaders: Kills: Brinley Wood 11, Mykenzie Vaassen 10, Megan Hartl 7. Blocks: Wood 5. Assists: Courtney Busch 29. Aces: Kayla Stich 3, Wood 2. Digs: Hartl 20, Cassie Murray 12, Busch 11, Vaassen 10.
At Cuba City on Saturday, Oct. 21
WIAA D3 REGIONAL SEMIFINAL
Marshall……….. 14 15 11
Cuba City……… 25 25 25
CC Leaders: Kills: Brinley Wood 13, Mykenzie Vaassen 10, Megan Hartl 5. Blocks: Wood 2, Parker Kopp 2. Assists: Courtney Busch 29. Aces: Wood 2. Digs: Hartl 12, Wood 11, Vaassen 8, Cassie Murray 7.
At Cuba City on Thursday, Oct. 19
WIAA D3 REGIONAL QUARTERFINAL
New Glarus……. 12 12 11
Cuba City……… 25 25 25
CC Leaders: Kills: Brinley Wood 16, Megan Hartl 11. Blocks: Wood 2. Assists: Courtney Busch 29. Aces: Busch 5, Mykenzie Vaassen 2. Digs: Hartl 11, Elizabeth Misky 8.
At Cuba City on Tuesday, Oct. 17