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Lady Wildcats secure sectional title, state invitation
Southwestern senior Michelle Budden (#17) strikes the ball past two defenders in Thursday's meet against River Ridge in Soldier's Grove. The Lady Wildcats swept that game in three matches and gave up one match in the contest against Royall on Saturday before sealing the 3-1 victory. With the Division 4 sectional title, the Lady Wildcats head to the state tournament Friday morning. - photo by AJ Gates

After losing to Newman Catholic in last year’s division 4 state final match, the Southwestern varsity volleyball team is making a return trip to the Resch Center in hopes of bringing home a gold ball.

With sectional wins over River Ridge and Royall last week, the Wildcats improved to 26-1 on the year and are making a return trip to the WIAA Division 4 State Volleyball Tournament.

In last Thursday night’s sectional semifinal rematch against River Ridge, the Wildcats needed just three games to win the match and move on to Saturday’s sectional final.

In the first game of last Thursday night’s match, Southwestern held a 7-6 lead over the Timberwolves when senior

Michelle Budden stepped up to the service line and served up 10 straight points for a 17-6 advantage.

From that point on, Southwestern cruised to a 25-13 victory.

Game two saw the two teams knotted at 4-4 before the Wildcats went on a 5-0 run for a 9-4 lead.

A 4-0 run gave Southwestern a 13-6 advantage, but River Ridge came back as close as 18-14 before the Wildcats used a 7-4 run to claim a 25-18 victory.

The third-and-final game saw Southwestern turn an 8-7 lead into a 17-7 lead with a 9-0 run, then cruised to a 25-9 victory.

Budden finished the night with 19 kills, while Miranda Kemp added five to go along with six blocks.

Madison Kuhl dished out 30 assists, while Melissa Tranel added 27 digs and four service aces.

Saturday night’s D4 sectional final at Onalaska Luther pitted the Wildcats against Royall.

Southwestern had its hands full with the Panthers, who after losing the first game, 26-24, defeated the Wildcats in the second, 25-23.

Coach Jane Wills’ squad then came back to claim the third game, 25-22, and went on to win the fourth, 25-16.
Budden led the Wildcats with 30 kills to go along with four blocks, while Kemp led the team with eight blocks on the night.

Kuhl distributed 41 total kills on Saturday and had a team-high five service aces, while Tranel picked up 30 digs and had two ace serves.

The Wildcats (26-1) will face Clayton (23-8) at 10 a.m. Friday morning  at the Resch Center in Green Bay, while the other state semifinal match pits Newman Catholic (38-1) against Living Word Lutheran (19-12). The state championship match will be played at 9 a.m. Saturday morning.

Two-time defending champion Newman Catholic is making its eighth overall appearance and its seventh in the last eight seasons, while Southwestern is making its third state appearance in the last five seasons.

Clayton is making its third straight appearance at the state tournament and its seventh overall, while Living Word Lutheran is making its first-ever state appearance.

Southwestern 3,
River Ridge 0
(D4 sectional semifinal from Thursday, Oct. 29, at Soldiers Grove)
Southwestern    25    25    25
River Ridge    13    18    9
Southwestern leaders
Kills - Michelle Budden 19, Miranda Kemp 5. Digs - Melissa Tranel 27. Aces - Tranel 4. Assists - Madison Kuhl 30. Blocks - Kemp 6.

Southwestern 3, Royall 1
(D4 sectional final from Saturday, Oct. 31, at Onalaska Luther)
Southwestern    26    23    25    25
Royall    24    25    22    16
Southwestern leaders
Kills - Michelle Budden 30. Digs - Melissa Tranel 30. Aces - Madison Kuhl 5, Tranel 2. Assists - Kuhl 41. Blocks - Kemp 8, Budden 4.