Make that four in a row for the Oostburg volleyball team.
The Flying Dutchmen rallied in both games of a 25-14, 26-24 win over Howards Grove in the championship match of the 26th annual 12-team Sheboygan County Classic Volleyball Tournament to earn county bragging rights for the fourth straight year and for the eighth time in 12 years.
“I’m always thrilled to win the county tournament because there’s always going to be really good teams here that are going to get after you, so it always feels great to win it and the feeling hasn’t gotten old,” Oostburg coach Scott Greupink said. “Howards put a lot of pressure on us. They were tough. But we were able to get it going. I told the team afterwards, I liked our composure.”
Having won Pool B with a 5-0 record, Oostburg had to wait nearly 30 minutes for the title match to start after defeating Pool A’s second-place finisher Plymouth 25-18, 25-16 in the semifinals. As a result, the Flying Dutchmen started off rusty in Game 1 against Howards and fell behind 7-3 before rallying to make it 14-14.
That’s when Howards — which won Pool A by going 5-0 and defeated Pool B’s second-place finisher Sheboygan Falls 19-25, 25-18, 16-14 in the semifinals — began to show signs of fatigue as the Flying Dutchmen scored 11 unanswered points for the 25-14 win.
“We got stuck in a rotation a little bit, we didn’t make the greatest decisions on a couple of things, but I am very proud of the team,” Howards Grove coach Brett Damrow said. “(Fatigue was) a little bit of a factor, but (Oostburg) was tired too. Hopefully we are better from this experience. It was a long day, a neat experience, and just I’m just proud of the girls.”
In Game 2, the Tigers again came out firing and led the entire way until Oostburg tied it at 15-15. The pair went back and forth, but with Howards once again looking fatigued, Oostburg took advantage of late Tigers errors for the 26-24 clincher.
“It’s just really exciting to win knowing we worked so hard, and we do each year, to get (the title),” Oostburg senior Jo-Leigh VerVelde said. “This gives us confidence just to know we can beat good teams and that as the season goes on and we get into the postseason that we will be able to beat tough teams.”
With the victory, Oostburg — ranked No. 1 in the most recent Division 3 Wisconsin Volleyball Coaches Association Poll — picked up another quality win as Howards was ranked No. 3. With the loss, the Tigers come away knowing they are able to compete with the best as they head into the middle portion of the regular season.
“We are still learning, still getting better, we have young players getting better, but I was very pleased overall with the day,” Damrow said. “We had a couple moments where we were up and then we couldn’t finish it. So, I am very pleased, we just have to keep developing ourselves a little bit and I am looking forward to a good rest of the season.”
* Oostburg 2, Plymouth 0 — In Game 1, Plymouth jumped out 3-0, but Oostburg responded with a 9-2 run and later made a 5-0 run.
In Game 2, the pair went back and forth until, tied at 10-10, Oostburg went on an 8-1 run to lead 18-11. The Flying Dutchmen went on to win 25-16.
* Howards Grove 2, Sheboygan Falls 1 — Sheboygan Falls raced out to a 14-6 lead in Game 1 before Howards Grove responded to tie it at 18-18. From there it was all the Falcons as they won 25-19.
“Falls played a heck of a tournament,” Damrow said.
The Falcons again got an early lead in Game 2, this time at 6-1, but the Tigers rallied to make it 6-6 and they took the lead for good at 14-13 in the 25-18 win.
“To come back and win, I was very proud of that,” Damrow said.
In the decisive Game 3 the teams started off alternating the lead until, after being tied 5-5, Falls took a 13-10 lead.
Howards tied it up at 13-13 and went on to win 16-14.
* Sheboygan Falls — In the tournament Kim Schwobe had 48 assists, Maria Mueller had 38 assists, Rachel Gremminger had 42 digs, Erika VanEngen had 20 digs and Jessy Liebelt had 26 kills.
* Howards Grove — Autumn Risch had 135 assists, 35 digs and 14 kills while Ali Schueler had 68 kills and 51 digs. Valerie Free had 73 digs and 11 aces, Courtney Milz had 28 kills and five blocks, Bailey Schaller had 24 digs, Erin Valenstein had 17 kills and Sam Yancy had 15 kills and eight blocks.
1. Howards Grove (5-0)
2. Plymouth (4-1)
3. Sheboygan South (2-3)
4. Sheboygan Lutheran (2-3)
5. Cedar Grove (1-4)
6. Elkhart Lake (0-5)
1. Oostburg (5-0)
2. Sheboygan Falls (4-1)
3. Sheboygan North (3-2)
4. Random Lake (2-3)
5. Sheboygan Christian (1-4)
6. Kohler (0-5)