Normally, rivalry games are supposed to be tense, exciting, down to the wire thrillers.
The Oshkosh West volleyball team made their match against Oshkosh North anything but.
The Wildcats dominated from the opening set and allowed no room for a Spartan comeback, winning 3-0 on Thursday at the Oshkosh North Fieldhouse.
The Wildcats took game one, leading wire-to-wire in the 25-19 victory and sucking in juice that was in the gymnasium right out of it.
The Spartans looked to get back into the match in set two and looked like they had some momentum, taking a 5-2 lead early in the second set.
But the Wildcats were unfazed, going on a 23-5 run the rest of the set to take set two 25-10 and control of the match.
Where West was successful was rattling off big scoring runs on their serve, forcing North to play out of position with their service game.
“That has really been our focus this week: serving aggressive,” West coach Gillian Pakula said. “Getting (Oshkosh North) to make out of system plays and we were able to do that.
“I think going forward, we realize how important that is. You know, target one area, move (the opponent) around and get them out of system.”
North didn’t help themselves either, making unforced error after unforced error and giving points to the Wildcats.
“Fundamentally, we shut ourselves down,” North coach Luke Herriges said. “Not taking anything away from West, but we made their job a lot easier for a good team.
“From the start we came out flat, without any energy and we never picked it up.”
West would come out and finish off the match, scoring seven of the last eight points in set three after being only up 18-17 to win 25-18.
The Wildcats were led on offense by Allie Rueger who had 10 kills and freshman Anna Kaminski, who tallied eight and has been getting progressively better at the outside hitter spot for West.
“Anna has been solid,” Pakula said. “She has improved throughout and I still see that in her, the ability. She is very coachable and she tries to make those adjustments and changes.”
Maddy Haedt tallied 26 assists and four aces as well for West, while on defense, Leah Salzer tallied 19 digs and Danielle Sweeting totaled three blocks in the win.
North was led by Mina House, who recorded eight kills, and Caitlyn Schafer, who had five aces in the loss.
The win moves Oshkosh West to 8-1 in the Fox Valley Association to end the regular season, guaranteeing the Wildcats sole possession of second place in the standings.
For as tough as a conference as the FVA is, Pakula is very happy with that.
“Our focus tonight was to win this match because we wanted to get second outright,” she said. “We wanted to ensure ourselves of that position.”
Now both teams look towards the WIAA postseason. North needs to get back into groove very quickly after this tough loss, as they host Sheboygan North next Thursday. Herriges knows the Spartans have some work to do before then.
“We have to scrimmage more and we have to put ourselves in different situations,” he said. “Sheboygan North is a very favorable matchup for us. If we came out like we did against some of (the better FVA) schools, it could be a fun night.”
For West, they are chomping at the bit to get the postseason started, as they host Slinger on Thursday. The Wildcats also see Neenah at the top of their bracket and are hoping that they can get to that point for a rematch with the Rockets.
“We are itching to get back at Neenah,” Pakula said. “We hope that that is our sectional matchup and we can make it that far and to push through.
“I think that anything is possible in this game and this year.”
Oshkosh West def. Oshkosh North 25-19, 25-10, 25-18
OW — Allie Rueger 10 kills, 4 aces, 2 blocks; Anna Kaminski 8 kills; Maddy Haedt 26 assists, 4 aces; Leah Salzer 19 digs; Danielle Sweeting 3 blocks; Megan Paulick 2 blocks. ON — Mina House 8 kills; Sydney Radandt 5 kills; Shannon Jaeger 10 digs; Jordan Foote 10 assists, 7 digs; Caitlyn Schafer 5 aces.