CUBA CITY — It’s still early in the season, but just four matches into their schedule the Cuba City volleyball team finds itself alone atop the SWAL standings.
The Lady Cubans (16-2 overall, 4-0 SWAL) took care of one of the title contenders at home on Tuesday, Sept. 12, when they posted a no-nonsense 3-0 sweep over the rival Southwestern Wildcats.
“It’s always a great match with them. Both teams usually bring their best efforts and the atmosphere is always electric,” said Cuba City head coach Keri Lawson. “Both teams came ready to play. Early on it was point for point. I was pleased how we remained composed at the serve line and were able to mix up our offense with solid defense play.”
After opening with a 25-19 win in set one to grab the early momentum, the Cubans jump out to a quick 9-3 lead at the start of set two and held on for a 25-21 win to go up 2-0.
A six-point service run by Courtney Busch and a nine-point run by Brinley Wood thrust the Cubans out to a 19-8 lead in set three, and the hosts went on to post a 25-12 win to secure the sweep.
“Throughout the match there were times things could have gone Southwestern’s way, however we always seemed to have an answer. We kept our errors at a minimum, which makes a huge difference in close sets. Once we got to set three, the Wildcats played with less aggressiveness. Our plan was to keep swinging, which worked for us,” noted Lawson.
Wood finished with 11 kills, 10 digs and four blocks to pace the Cubans on the night. Busch distributed 30 assists and served up two aces, while Megan Hartl tallied seven kills, 19 dogs and two aces and Mykenzie Vaassen chipped in with seven kills, 14 digs and one ace.
Mya Runde slammed 10 kills and two aces for the Wildcats. Abby Budden registered seven kills and a block, while Callista Brogley and Julia Barnes each had to two aces for the guests.
“We knew playing Cuba we were going to have to come out strong as it’s a big rivalry match with both teams having great abilities,” said coach Diedre Neis. “We had a lot of great plays, unfortunately our mistakes out-weighed those good plays. We still have some work to do on the defensive side, but I’m positive we will get there. Overall, the girls are playing well together and I’m excited to see what the rest of the season has in store for us.”
The Wildcats (11-3, 3-1) turned around on Thursday, Sept. 14, and did the Cubans a favor by sweeping the previously unbeaten Iowa-Grant Panthers (3-1), 25-17, 33-31, 25-20, to put Cuba City into sole possession of first-place in the SWAL.
“We knew playing Iowa-Grant we had to come out with high intensity and start off strong and we did just that,” said coach Neis. “We played hard as a team and put the ball away and that’s what we need from here on out.”
While Southwestern dominated the Panthers in the first and third sets, it was the second that went back and forth until the Wildcats prevailed, 33-31.
“That second set was a thriller. We worked too hard to not finish it off,” Neis replied.
Leading Southwestern with 11 kills, four blocks and two service aces was Mya Runde, while Callista Brogley dished out 45 assists and Kailey Droessler came up with 17 digs.
The Cubans took care of their own business on Thursday evening, posting a dominating sweep at Riverdale, 25-11, 25-10, 25-11.
Hartl and Wood each registered seven kills for the Cubans against the Chieftains with Wood adding a team-high three blocks.
Busch handed out 27 assists, and Vaassen served up four aces. Elizabeth Misky had 11 digs on the night.
Finally, at Oshkosh, on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 15-16, the Lady Cubans posted a 4-3 record against some stiff competition to finish 13th overall at the 32-team UW-Oshkosh High School Showcase.
Cuba City went 2-1 in pool play on Friday to advance to the Gold Bracket of match play on Saturday. The Cubans spiked Niagara, 25-6, 25-6, and edged New Berlin Eisenhower, 16-25, 25-23, 15-7, while falling to Fond du Lac, 14-25, 11-25, to open the event.
The Cubans came back on Saturday to face defending WIAA Division 2 state champion Catholic Memorial in their first match. The Crusaders took set one by a score of 25-18 and earned the sweep with a 25-21 win in set two.
“Advancing to the gold bracket also means playing the big dogs. In order to play with them, we needed to up every area of our game. We were successful in this for much of the match. However, unforced errors against that strong of a team puts you on your heels. You never want to lose sets on silly mistakes, but we did and need to do a better job closing out sets/matches,” said coach Lawson.
The Cubans ran out of steam against Slinger in their second match on Saturday, winning set one 25-17, but falling 18-25 and 9-15 in sets two and three.
“That loss may have deflated some of our energy as we found a way to beat Slinger in set one and then had nothing left to give.”
The Cubans rallied back to win their final two matches of the tournament with sweeps over Amherst, 25-21, 25-23, and Plymouth, 25-17, 25-11.
“The team focused on finishing the tourney with a win and fought to get two victories in the end. This is a tough tournament with big schools, tall players, etc. We put our team in this situation to get better and that I believe we did,” commented Lawson.
Wood was named to the All-Tournament team after registering 45 kills and 18 blocks in the Cubans’ seven matches.
Busch handed out 132 assists to guide the Cuba City offense over the weekend, including 85 assists on Saturday alone. She also had five aces.
Hartl slammed 33 kills with team-highs in digs (59) and aces (seven). Keisha Cummings added 33 kills, while Vaassen contributed 54 digs and three aces.
Cuba City travels to Fennimore on Monday, Sept. 25, and returns home to host Darlington on Tuesday, Sept. 26 in SWAL action. Southwestern has SWAL matches at home against Mineral Point on Thursday, Sept. 21, and Riverdale on Tuesday, Sept. 26.
Southwestern… 19 21 12
Cuba City……… 25 25 25
Leaders: SW– Kills: Mya Runde 10, Abby Budden 7. Blocks: Budden 1, Allison Kruser 1. Aces: Runde 2, Callista Brogley 2, Julia Barnes 2. CC– Kills: Brinley Wood 11, Megan Hartl 7, Mykenzie Vaassen 7. Blocks: Wood 4. Assists: Courtney Busch 30. Aces: Hartl 2, Busch 2. Digs: Megan Hartl 19, Vaassen 14.
Cuba City……… 25 25 25
Riverdale……… 11 10 11
CC Leaders: Kills: Megan Hartl 7, Brinley Wood 7. Blocks: Wood 3. Assists: Courtney Busch 27. Aces: Mykenzie Vaassen 4. Digs: Elizabeth Misky 11.
Iowa-Grant……… 17 31 20
Southwestern….. 25 33 25
SW Leaders: Kills - Mya Runde 11, Allison Kruser 9. Digs - Kailey Droessler 17, Kruser 5. Aces - Kruser 3, Runde 2. Assists - Callista Brogley 45.Blocks - Runde 4.
CC Results– Pool Play: CC def. Niagara, 25-6, 25-6; Fond du Lac def. CC, 25-14, 25-11; CC def. New Berlin Eisenhower, 16-25, 25-23, 15-7.Match Play: Catholic Memorial def. CC, 25-18, 25-21; Slinger def. CC, 17-25, 25-18, 15-9; CC def. Amherst, 25-21, 25-23; CC def. Plymouth, 25-17, 25-11.
CC Leaders: Kills: Brinley Wood 45, Megan Hartl 33, Keisha Cummings 33. Blocks: Wood 18. Assists: Courtney Busch 132. Aces: Hartl 7, Busch 5, Kayla Stich 4, Mykenzie Vaassen 3. Digs: Hartl 59, Vaassen 54.
At UW-Oshkosh on Fri-Sat, Sept. 15-16