DARLINGTON – Darlington will head into the post-season riding a full head of steam after posting come-from-behind victories over Southwestern and Iowa-Grant to lock up sole possession of second-place in the Southwest Wisconsin Activities League volleyball standings.
“We talked about it all week that this is the schedule we wanted going into the playoffs. These were two teams who were definitely going to push us at the end of the year,” said Darlington head coach Jennifer Schwartz.
The Redbirds (16-6-1 overall) finished with a 10-2 SWAL record, taking second behind Cuba City at 12-0. Southwestern was third at 9-3 and Iowa-Grant was fourth at 6-6.
“We’re pretty happy with 10-2. Unfortunately, we kind of let Cuba (City) off the hook earlier this year, but we finished strong. We’re looking forward to the tournament and seeing how far we can go,” added Schwartz.
The Wildcats made a play for second at home on Tuesday, Oct. 10, grabbing a 2-1 advantage of the ‘Birds after posting wins of 25-27 and 25-23 in sets two and three. The Redbirds, who won set one by a score of 25-14, evened the match up at 2-2 with a 25-16 win in set four, and then secured the 3-2 victory with a 15-11 win in set five.
Senior Kennedy Rankin had 10 kills and 10 digs to lead the Redbirds in the match.
“Southwestern was a great gut check for us. I was happy to see the kids fight hard to get the win. It was a total team effort. I liked the way the kids pulled together. When somebody was down, someone else came up to help them out,” Schwartz noted.
The Panthers also gave the Redbirds challenge in their Pink Night meeting at DHS on Thursday, Oct. 12.
After falling 25-23 to the Panthers in a tough opening set, the ‘Birds fought back with consecutive wins of 25-16, 25-22 and 25-14 to seal their fourth straight SWAL win.
“You want to know how your team will react to adversity. I thought we handled it pretty well. It was a total team effort. We had a lot of kids who contributed in many ways. It’s nice to see us have a little bit of depth at this points of the season,” Schwartz shared.
The WIAA Division 3 volleyball tournament began on Tuesday, Oct. 17. The #5-seeded Redbirds hosted #12-seeded Parkview in a regional quarterfinal match. The results of that match were unavailable at press time.
With a win on Tuesday, Darlington would either travel to #4 Brodhead or host #13-seed Deerfield in a regional semifinal contest on Thursday, Oct. 19, at 7 p.m. The D3 regional final match is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 21, also at 7 p.m., while D3 sectional play will begin on Thursday, Oct. 26, with a semifinal match at Mineral Point High School, starting at 7 p.m.
Darlington……… 25 17 23 25 15
Southwestern…. 14 25 25 16 11
At Hazel Green on Tuesday, Oct. 10
Iowa-Grant……... 25 16 22 14
Darlington……… 23 25 25 25
At Darlington on Thursday, Oct. 12