Prep volleyball: Auburndale playing its best matches in playoffs

Prep volleyball: Auburndale playing its best matches in playoffs


Prep volleyball: Auburndale playing its best matches in playoffs



The Auburndale volleyball team had its share of ups and downs during the regular season.

Since the WIAA playoffs began, the team has been riding high. After sweeping Loyal/Granton, Auburndale had back-to-back five-set wins over fourth-seeded Spencer and No. 1 seed Athens to reach the sectional tournament for the first time since 2010, the last time Auburndale advanced the WIAA state tournament.

The playoff victories over Spencer and Athens avenged regular season losses and have sparked a renewed fire in the girls.

“We don’t want our season to end,” Auburndale setter Kendra Kundinger said. “We’ve worked so hard and we’ve really picked it up in the playoffs.”

Auburndale finished third in the Marawood Conference South Division and is the fifth-seeded team in the sectional. Auburndale coach Peggy Empey has been waiting patiently for the girls to break out and play they way she believed they were capable.

“I felt that sometimes they held back during the season and we struggled against some of the top teams we faced early in the year,” Empey said. “I felt like they could catch fire at anytime and now they’re doing it.

“The girls are playing with passion now and they are just going for it. It’s been exciting to see them play with that spark.”

As the regular season was coming to an end, Empey talked to the girls about who and what they are playing for. She had the girls write down in their journals what they still wanted to accomplish this season as a reminder of all the hard work they have put into the sport.

“They all felt thankful and blessed to be able to just go out and play the sport they love with their friends and that must have fired them up,” Empey said.

In Stanley-Boyd, Auburndale is facing a team that finished third in the Cloverbelt Conference West Division and has been hot in the playoffs, too.

The third-seeded Orioles beat Colby and Neillsville in the early rounds and then topped No. 2 Marathon in four sets to win their regional title. Auburndale has not faced Stanley-Boyd this season and the girls are fine with that.

“It’s like we’re going to a weekend tournament and playing a new team,” Kundinger said. “We’re excited to still be playing volleyball and we’re going to do our best to keep it going.”

The Orioles have made two state tournament appearances, in 1989 and 2006, and Auburndale also went in 2009.

“I’m very proud and excited for them to be putting it all together at the perfect time of the season,” Empey said.


More USA TODAY High School Sports