The Marshfield and Wisconsin Rapids volleyball teams had a reason to celebrate Saturday at the first leg of the Wisconsin Valley Conference meet, but for much different reasons.
The senior class at Marshfield has never known what it felt like to beat Merrill in a dual meet until Saturday as the Tiger rallied to pull out a five-game match, prevailing in the final two games 25-23 and 15-8.
“It feels awesome knowing we beat them and having that mentality that we know we can beat them,” said Tigers senior middle Mikala Sebastian, who finished with 33 kills. “We were hoping to take all three (matches today), and we did.”
With the win over the Bluejays, Marshfield gained the upper hand in the race for the Valley championship by remaining the lone unbeaten team in conference play.
Merrill, which endured a tough five-game win over host Wausau East top start the day, will look to turn the tables when the two teams get together again Thursday on the Bluejays home court.
“We pulled together against East, but we couldn’t pull together against Marshfield,” Merrill setter Lindsay Krueger said. “(The problem) was our inability to get our offense going (the last two games), and Marshfield was on.”
While the Tigers and Bluejays ared used to winning, Wisconsin Rapids has suffered through a long victory drought in the Valley action.
Not since 2008 had the Raiders picked up a conference win – with the exception of a forfeit win over Rhinelander in 2009 – until Saturday.
Rapids finally got to taste victory again – ironically on the same court the senior trio played their first match together as freshmen on the junior varsity team – with a win over Wausau West in four games to start the day.
Shelby Steinke finished with a team-high 23 kills, while Lexi Johnson collected 58 digs. Caitlin Neuman also added 30 assists.
“Three years we’ve been building up for to this and words cannot describe how we feel right now,” Allie Paitel said.
Added Johnson: “It was very emotional. We had a lot opf energy for that (West) match). All week long we talked about how we have to go hard against West.”
Meanwhile, Wausau East suffered a couple painful losses – figuratively and litterally – falling to Merrill and SPASH in a pair of five-game matches, while losing Annie Tuman and Tara Schepp to ankle injuries during the course of the day.
Clara Baumann attempted to pick up the slack with 52 digs and 31 kills, while Vanessa Boorse contributed 68 assists.
“It’s tough not playing with your normal lineup, but I was very proud of the girls’ effort,” East coach Ken Zoromski said. “The kids who were able to play did a good job.”
The five-game comeback win against the Lumberjacks after losing the first two games enabled SPASH to split a pair of matches. The Panthers also lost to Marshfield in three games.
“They showed they were fighters. It would have been real easy to tank Game 3 (against East), but they didn’t,” Panthers coach Julie Johnson said. “If ever a team earned a win, they did. They worked hard for that one.”
D.C. Everest went 2-1 on the day, while Wausau West, who was paced by Haley Fochs with 12 kills, while Krista Strandberg and Samantha Oliva finished with 17 and 16 assists, respectively. dropped both of its matches. Katrina Raskie had 30 kills, 12 assists and eight blocks to lead the Evergreens. Lindsey Wetzel had 23 kills and 10 blocks, while Everest’s Hallie Locher had 54 digs and 11 aces.
Team standings: 1. Marshfield 3-0; 2. Merrill and D.C. Everest 2-1; 4. SPASH 1-1; 5. Wisconsin Rapids 1-2; 6. Wausau East and Wausau West 0-2.
Round 1: Merrill def. Wausau East, 16-25, 25-22, 25-17, 18-25, 15-9; Marshfield def. D.C. Evererst, 25-22, 25-13, 25-19; Wisconsin Rapids def. Wausau West, 25-15, 16-25, 25-22, 25-22.
Round 2: Marshfield def. Merrill, 19-25, 25-21, 19-25, 25-23, 15-8; D.C. Everest def. Wisconsin Rapids, 25-23, 21-25, 25-16, 25-21; SPASH def. Wausau East, 16-25, 17-25, 25-20, 25-20, 15-12.
Round 3: Merrill def. Wisconsin Rapids, 25-17, 25-11, 25-13; Marshfield def. SPASH, 25-21, 25-19, 30-28; D.C. Everest def. Wausau West, 25-6, 25-12, 25-18.