One of the biggest reasons the Waupun volleyball team has found success this season is because of its fan base.
It’s one of the reasons the third-seeded Warriors (35-14) have a perfect 9-0 record at home, not including a regional final win last Thursday against (2) Fox Valley Lutheran, when the Warriors swept the Foxes in Appleton.
Now they get to face top-seeded Xavier, but luckily won’t have to make another trip to Appleton. Waupun hosts the Hawks Thursday night at 7 p.m. in a Division 2 sectional semifinal game.
“Home-court advantage is really helpful,” Waupun’s Kelsey Thompson said. “When we went to FVL we actually had a bigger cheering section than them so it was almost like a home match. Our Warrior Nation section is amazing. We can’t do it without them.”
“It’s a huge advantage,” Waupun first-year head coach Kurt Breier echoed. “We have a great following. We always get a lot of students and the amount of energy they provide usually fuels us pretty good.”
However, the Warriors know it will take more than home-court advantage to beat the Hawks, who are currently ranked 10th in Division 2 with a 35-9 record.
“We know they’re a solid team. We know it’s going to be a challenge for us and we’re ready to compete,” Thompson said.
“I know they have some pretty big hitters. Their serve is pretty aggressive,” Breier added. “They don’t make a lot of mistakes. They are just a solid team all-around.”
Xavier is coming off a sweep over No. 4 Little Chute in a regional final after sweeping No. 8 Mayville in the first round. But Waupun is playing just as well. The Warriors have won their last 10 matches, including the big win over FVL last Thursday.
“We came out with a lot of energy and we had a game plan in place on how we were going to start out the game,” Breier said of the win. “The girls took to it and played on a high level the entire game.”
Waupun won by scores of 25-9, 25-21 and 25-16.
Like Waupun, Xavier has many good hitters. Peyton Ufi comes in leading the Hawks with 325 kills, while 6-foot-2 Grace Schlicht and Jenna Deshaney have just over 200 kills apiece. Schlicht also has a team-high 115 blocks.
For the Warriors, Blake Buchholz has an astonishing 610 kills, Claiborn Bronkhorst has 236 kills and 112 blocks, while Thompson has 216 kills.
While both teams have similar power and comparable stats, Breier knows it will come down to which team makes less unforced errors. The Hawks have only committed 359 errors to the Warriors’ 464.
“We’re going to have to play with a lot of energy. We’re going to have to play clean volleyball and give them points and make sure that when they do give us the opportunity to give us points off them, that we take advantage of those,” the coach said.
Waupun’s last loss came on Oct. 5 in a 2-1 loss against Appleton North.
If the Warriors are to win Thursday, they would face either No. 1 Oconto Falls or No. 2 Notre Dame in Seymour Saturday, with the winner advancing to the state tournament.