Local volleyball teams make it two in a row
By Jennifer Eisenbart
At the start of the season, expectations were high for the Burlington High School girls volleyball team.
With five seniors – three of them NCAA Division 1 recruits – plus a talented crop of freshmen, the Demons knew they had the makings of a championship squad, the kind that could produce back-to-back state titles.
Across town at Catholic Central High School, things were a little more uncertain. The Lady ’Toppers graduated four senior starters – players who took on not just roles on the court but in leadership as well.
In the end Saturday, both journeys dovetailed nicely, as Catholic Central won the Division 4 title to open Championship Saturday at the WIAA state girls volleyball tournament, and then BHS won the Division 1 to end the day of volleyball.
Of the four titles decided Saturday, three were repeat winners. Oostburg won in Division 3, and the only new winner was Kettle Moraine Lutheran – making its first appearance at state since 2007 but seventh overall.
Burlington did what it did most of the season – it dominated its opponents. The Demons swept De Pere 25-18, 25-8, 25-17, withstood Menomonee Falls 25-13, 17-25, 25-16, 25-17, and then swept Divine Savior Holy Angels 29-27, 25-20, 25-16.
It was the second straight title in four straight trips to the state tournament for the BHS seniors, a group that includes Ciara Capezio, Kaysie Shebeneck, Morganne Longoria, Sam Webb and Abby Schmalfeldt.
“The feeling’s amazing,” said Shebeneck. “I’m just so proud of everyone.”
All three players were named to the Wisconsin Volleyball Coaches Association All-State team Monday, and all three were named to the WVCA All-Tournament team as well.
For Catholic Central coach Mae-Mae Oberhofer, the state title showed her how much confidence her team developed throughout the course of the year.
“This senior class, I had to hope they could see they had a lot of potential,” Oberhofer said. “And they found that in the middle of the season.
“That’s what makes me so proud.”
The Lady ’Toppers dropped the first game to Luck in the state semifinals, but rallied to win 20-25, 25-19, 25-17, 25-22, and then swept Newman Catholic of Wausau 25-15, 25-18, 25-22 in the finals.
“Surreal – I don’t even know,” said senior Maggie Smith, a third-team All-State pick, of the moment. “Just a dream. It feels amazing.”
Smith was joined on the Division 4 All-Tournament team by junior Megan Wadsworth and fellow senior Kelly Gould.
Gould, who along with Smith, Sara Seib, Caitlin Rach, Brittany Martin and Ali Wiemer are all seniors, struggled for words to define the victory.
“We’re just so happy to be here, and I’m just so happy I get to spend it with these guys,” said Gould.
Wiemer couldn’t find words.
“I’m just so happy. That’s all I got,” said Wiemer. Seib followed with, “that’s all I’ve got, too.”
And Martin, who got a self-described facial in the second game of the championship match – a ball to the face that caused a bloody nose and forced her to miss about half the game – got a chance to play on the state court after being a back-up setter the last three years behind Gould.
“It’s a different feeling,” she said. “These last couple of weeks, I’ve had that nervous feeling, and the jitterbugs, I guess.
“But it’s still an incredible feeling playing with these girls.”