The Newman Catholic volleyball machine keeps motoring through its playoff bracket.
The latest casualty was Greenwood, which the Cardinals dispatched 25-10, 25-14, 25-16 in business-like fashion Thursday in a WIAA Division 4 sectional semifinal at Stevens Point Area Senior High.
Newman takes on Pembine/Goodman, a 3-1 winner over Suring, in the sectional championship Saturday at Marathon. On the line for the Cardinals is a third straight trip to the state tournament, the the Resch Center, Nov. 8-9 at the Resch Center in Green Bay.
“We practiced hard this week and were fired up for this match, and when we came out we knew they were fired up too, so we had to play our style of volleyball,” said Newman senior Shaefer Rupar, who had 15 kills. “Our other playoff games weren’t as intense so we wanted to come out and play like we know we can.”
As a No. 1 seed, Newman received a first-round bye and has defeated all three playoff opponents in three sets. In each set the Cardinals were able to reach the 10-point mark first, something that coach Betty Lange has been stressing practice.
“We’ve been working on starting fast,” Lange said. “We want to be the first team to five points and then the first to 10 points in every match. The girls came ready to play tonight and played aggressive and they were in control the whole match.”
The opening set was Newman’s most dominating, but the Cardinals hardly slowed down the entire match. Freshman Mariah Whalen, who finished with 19 kills and three blocks, closed out the opening set with one of those big kills.
Despite taking a modest 5-3 lead in the second set, Greenwood wasn’t able to get its attack flowing.
“We didn’t pass well tonight,” Greenwood coach Jenni Mayenschein said. “When you can’t pass, you can’t set or get a swing. They’re an outstanding team and they served lights out on us.”
Second-seeded Greenwood won its first two playoff matches in straight sets and beat Pittsville 3-1 to claim the regional title and advance to the sectional tournament.
“I’m so proud of all 12 girls on this team,” Mayenschein said. “They are such a close team and took care of each other all season. They loved to play volleyball and had fun this season.”
Newman setter Abigail Fox had 36 assists and spread the ball around to all her teammates, which made it difficult for Greenwood to set up its defense.
“We like to spread our offense around so it makes us unpredictable,” Rupar said. “When everyone gets involved in the game we all stay more focused throughout the whole match.
“We can’t take anyone for granted at this level,” Rupar added. “We have to remember why we’re here and that’s to go to state. We have to play hard through the entire match.”