Monday’s practices conducted around Sheboygan County by the area’s prep volleyball teams took on a decidedly serious tone with an emphasis on focus. It could only mean one thing — the postseason is here.
The WIAA Girls State Volleyball Tournament kicks off today with all matches starting at 7 p.m. Eleven of the area’s 14 programs will square off in regional openers, including two-time defending Division 3 state champion and No. 1 seed Oostburg (33-3) is it begins its road to a repeat by hosting No. 16 Lomira (1-13). The Flying Dutchmen are the area’s lone No. 1 seed.
“What we talked about at practice (on Monday) was, we really had a nice (Central Lakeshore Conference) tournament and I felt like, in the last three weeks, we’ve showed some pretty nice improvement, and now the challenge is what are we going to do in the next week to get better,” said Oostburg coach Scott Greupink. “We’re really just trying to focus on what we need to do to be a better team moving forward. We are just trying to get after it and make some improvements here and there and see if we can’t get better over the course of as long as we can keep playing.”
No. 2 seed Howards Grove (34-8) will host No. 15 Kewaunee (0-11) as the Tigers hope to continue their recent trend of going further into the postseason each year. In 2011 they advanced to the regional finals and last year made it to the sectional semifinals, being eliminated by Oostburg each time.
“We just talked (on Monday) about it being a new season and staying focused,” Howards Grove coach Brett Damrow said. “We just prepared for Kewaunee and talked about taking one play at a time, one moment at a time and understanding we have to be really crisp. We are going to make some physical mistakes, we just can’t make those mental mistakes.”
Also in Division 3, No. 3 New Holstein (25-8) will host No. 14 Mishicot (2-20) while the two local teams in that bracket that will be traveling for their openers are No. 12 Random Lake (10-24) against No. 5 Manitowoc Lutheran (17-13) and No. 11 Cedar Grove-Belgium (6-15) at No. 6 Algoma (7-8).
A pair of local teams have regional openers in the Divison 2 bracket with No. 3 Plymouth (27-8) hosting No. 14 Milwaukee Sam Morse Morshall (N/A) and No. 10 Kiel (13-18) traveling to No. 7 Milwaukee Lutheran (11-20).
Sheboygan Falls, a No. 2 seed in Division 2 at 24-14, is the only area team to receive a first-round bye. Falcons first-year head coach Christy Kohlhagen said on Monday during her team’s practice that she was happy to have an extra couple of days to prepare her team.
“I am really going to be stressing to them that, this is it, this is a new part of the season, focus on what we have done well and just look at things we have to tweak and improve. … I like the fact that we have a bye,” Kohlhagen said. “They need to work together. There is so much talent on this team. … When we don’t communicate we play like a completely different team, so we have to work together.”
Division 4 features the only matchup involving two local teams as No. 5 Sheboygan Christian (7-15) hosts No. 12 Elkhart Lake-Glenbeaulah (5-29). In the same division, No. 4 Sheboygan Lutheran (10-13) will host No. 13 Eastbrook Academy (N/A) and No. 14 Kohler (0-18) will be at No. 3 Heritage Christian (23-14).
The Division 1 regional openers will all be held on Thursday at 7 p.m. No. 13 Sheboygan South (3-12) will be at No. 4 Cedarburg (31-12) and No. 11 Sheboygan North (7-11) will travel to No. 6 Slinger (16-19).Those teams did not face each other in the regular season.