A lot of teams competing in tonight’s sectional semifinals of the WIAA State Girls Volleyball Tournament will be facing opponents they’ve never played before. For Division 3 No. 1 seed Oostburg and No. 2 seed Howards Grove, that isn’t the case.
With the two powerhouses squaring off at 7 p.m. tonight at New Holstein High School, a sectional finals appearance and potential trip to State will be on the line in the fourth meeting between the Central Lakeshore Conference foes this season.
“There probably won’t be a lot of surprises for us and there won’t be a lot of surprises for them,” Oostburg coach Scott Greupink said. “They know us really well, I think both teams know what they want to do and I think it’s just going to come down to executing and trying to play our best.”
Oostburg (42-3) — which has been ranked No. 1 in Division 3 by the Wisconsin Volleyball Coaches Association for the eight weeks it’s had a poll — defeated Howards Grove (37-8), ranked No. 5 by the WVCA, in each of the pair’s previous three meetings.
“The one thing about Howards Grove is they play us well. They play us hard,” Greupink said. “They do a good job of coming after us, being aggressive, so we just want to play well (today)”
“The first thing we talked about Monday at practice was that (it’s) a new season and you can throw the records out,” Howards coach Brett Damrow said in a statement to Sheboygan Press Media.
“The last couple of days we really focused more on clearing our heads of the outcome and concentrate on the execution of our game plan,” Damrow added. “I believe if you think (too) much about what could or might happen you are not focused on the task at hand.”
The back-to-back State champion Flying Dutchmen first handed the Tigers a 25-14, 26-24 defeat in the championship match of the mid-September Sheboygan County Classic Volleyball Tournament at Sheboygan South.
Then, nearly a month ago, the Flying Dutchmen swept the Tigers 25-16, 25-20, 25-17 to hand the hosts a Senior Night loss.
The last time they met — nearly two weeks ago in the CLC tournament — Oostburg emerged victorious 25-13, 25-13 to emerge as repeat conference champs. The Flying Dutchmen enter today’s contest on a 23-match winning streak.
Sheboygan Falls, on the other hand, happens to be in the dark when it comes to its Division 2 sectional semifinal opponent. The No. 2-seeded Falcons (26-14) will face off against No. 1 Kettle Moraine Lutheran (27-14) with the pair having no prior matchups this season. The Chargers are currently ranked No. 2 by the WVCA after sweeping both of their postseason contests and winning last year’s title.
“We know they’re going to be strong,” Sheboygan Falls coach Christy Kohlhagen said. “They have some big hitters, they have strong servers, so our main focus has just been that we need to work together and talk to each other because they are going to be a strong team, but I think if we can come together we can put up a good fight against them.”
Falls’ match is slated for 7 p.m. tonight at Plymouth.