CUBA CITY — Cuba City had a score to settle with Southwestern last Tuesday night and it took a total team effort to get the job done.
The host Cubans handed the Wildcats their first loss of the season and jumped back into a tie for first-place in the SWAL standings with a 3-0 sweep at CCHS on Oct. 6.
“We go after the win regardless of who is on the other side. I would be amiss if I said it wasn’t a great feeling,” said Cuba City head coach Keri Lawson, whose team had a 43-game conference winning streak snapped in a 3-0 loss at Southwestern on Sept. 17. “Our goal was to redeem ourselves from the (first) meeting by not beating ourselves. We obviously cleaned things up enough to compete above and beyond, and put the pressure on (them). Anytime you play team that is undefeated, it should be a challenge both physically and mentally. We had a plan, and the girls executed it.”
Senior Emily Wiederholt served the Cubans (25-6 overall, 9-1 SWAL- ranked #10 in Division 3) out to a 5-0 lead in set one. The Wildcats (20-1, 9-1- ranked #2 in D4) fought back to even the score at 8-8, but the Cubans never gave up the lead. After going back on top 19-16, the hosts ended the set with six straight points to go up 1-0 with a 25-16 decision.
The Cubans again jumped out to an early lead in set, however this time the Wildcats rallied with a 5-1 run to grab an 8-7 lead. The Cubans answered back with a 7-1 run of their own to regain control at 14-9, and pulled out to a 2-0 lead with a 25-20 win.
Smelling the sweep, the Cubans started off strong again in set three. A three-point service run by senior Jessi Marti gave the hosts an early 6-1 lead, and another 7-2 scoring run extended the lead to 14-5.
The Cubans continued to ride the momentum as they closed the match with a 11-3 run to seal the sweep with a decisive 25-8 victory.
“We played to win every point and put ourselves in control during the entire match. Southwestern didn’t bring their A game. That happens to all good teams. We were just on at the right time and went after it. It was a total team effort. Everyone stepped up and did their job for the win,” commented Lawson.
Marti finished with 13 kills, 13 digs and four aces to lead the Cubans, while Wiederholt chipped in with eight kills on 8-for-8 hitting, four blocks and two aces.
Junior setter Ally Averkamp dished out 20 assists for the Cubans, and senior Kaitlyn Kaiser added eight kills in the win.
Southwestern bounced back on Thursday evening to post a 3-0 SWAL win at Boscobel.
Michelle Budden had 25 kills and five blocks for the Wildcats, while Melissa Tranel and Claire Splinter tallied 12 digs apiece.
Coach Lawson’s Cubans picked right up where they left off on Saturday, Oct. 10, by posting a 4-1 record on the court to claim the team title at the 2015 Lodi Invitational.
The Cubans took down an old nemesis, Wisconsin Heights, in the championship match, 25-14, 25-23, to capture the crown.
“We hoped to carry over the rhythm from Tuesday night and compete at a pretty tough tourney. It was not unusual to match up to Heights in the final. We played really well the first set, served tough and had some great net play. In set two, both teams were tired. We were down six or seven points, but slowly chipped away. We made some fantastic saves and tied it up in time to finish a tight match,” recalled Lawson.
Fond du Lac, who won the Oshkosh tournament earlier in the season that the Cubans finished ninth in, defeated them, 20-25 and 23-25, in the opening round of pool play. The Cubans bounced back with wins over Edgerton, 25-16, 14-25, 15-4, and Madison La Follette, 25-10, 25-23, to advance to the Gold Bracket of the tournament.
Those two wins also gave Coach Lawson her 500th career varsity victory at CCHS.
In the semifinal round, the Cubans defeated McFarland, 25-17, 23-25, 15-10, and the Vanguards vanquished FdL, 14-25, 25-20, 17-15, to set up their meeting in the finals.
“The key is that our team is playing with a purpose an becoming more confident and trusting of one another on the court. There isn’t a better time to start to peak!” Lawson commented.
Kaitlyn Kaiser recorded 49 kills and 16 blocks to lead the Cubans, while Ally Averkamp guided the offensive attack with 81 assists.
Jessi Marti tallied 21 kills and 54 digs over the five matches, and Emily Wiederholt contributed 45 digs, 10 aces and eight blocks to the winning effort. Maizee Splinter added 20 kills for the Cubans.
Cuba City closes the regular season at Darlington on Thursday, Oct. 15; while Southwestern is at Riverdale for their finale on Thursday evening.
The WIAA volleyball tournament series begins with regional quarterfinal games on Tuesday, Oct. 20. Cuba City earned a number-one seed in its seven-team regional and will have a first-round bye in the WIAA Division 3 playoffs. The Cubans will play the winner of No. 5 Fennimore and No. 4 Prairie du Chien in Thursday's regional semifinal round. Southwestern earned the top seed in its Division 4 regional and will host Belmont on Tuesday to begin the playoffs.
Southwestern… 16 20 8
Cuba City……… 25 25 25
At Cuba City on Tuesday, Oct. 6
Championship Match: Cuba City def. Wisconsin Heights, 25-14, 25-23.
Semifinal Match: Cuba City def. McFarland, 25-17, 23-25, 15-10.
Pool Play: Fond du Lac def. Cuba City, 20-25, 23-25; Cuba City def. Edgerton, 25-16, 14-25, 15-4; Cuba City def. Madison La Follette, 25-10, 25-23.
Pool A – McFarland 3-0, Wisconsin Heights 2-1, Lodi 1-2, Richland Center 0-3. Pool B – Fon du Lac 3-0, Cuba City 2-1, Edgerton 1-2, Madison La Follette 0-3.
Cuba City leaders – Kills: Kaitlyn Kaiser, 49. Blocks: Kaiser, 16. Assists: Ally Averkamp, 81. Aces: Emily Wiederholt, 10. Digs: Jessi Marti 54.