GREEN BAY – The roaring welcome the Manitowoc Lincoln volleyball team received when it hit the floor at the Resch Center on Thursday rivaled one a certain quarterback receives across the street at Lambeau Field on Sunday afternoons.
“It was kind of reassuring. These people care about us. They want us to succeed,” junior Katie Henry said. “They’re here for us. They’re here to revel in our success.”
Once the match began however, the greeting the Ships (35-5) received from Burlington (43-3) wasn’t as friendly.
The Demons took the first nine points of the opening game of the WIAA Division 1 quarterfinal match and never looked back, topping Lincoln 3-0 and ending the Ships’ season.
Burlington cruised to a 25-13 in Game 1.
Manitowoc Lincoln Ships react after being swept by Burlington during their Division 1 quarterfinals match in the WIAA state championship volleyball tournament on Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014 at the Resch Center in Green Bay. Matthew Apgar/HTR Media
“We all had some pregame jitters and we let that show in the first few points,” Wolowicz said. “That hurt us.”
Lincoln head coach Mary Beth Dixon urged her players to shake off the tough start.
“We just said ‘you have two more games at least.’ We were hoping it was going to be more than that,” Dixon said. “We had some moments, but then we would shoot ourselves in the foot once we got the momentum going, it seemed like.”
The Demons pounced again at the onset of the second game, this time rushing out to a 6-0 lead before the Ships were able to get on the board.
But Lincoln hung around. Eventually, the Ships drew within five, trailing 23-18 late in the game but were unable to get any closer, falling 25-20.
“We tried to make it a set in Game 2. They fought back. It just wasn’t our best ball today,” Dixon said. “Burlington plays very well. We knew that coming in. We knew we would have to bring our A-game.”
Manitowoc grabbed its first and only lead of the match after winning the first point of the third game. From there, Burlington scored 11 of the next 13 points and assumed an 11-2 lead.
The Ships continued to hang tough, but came up on the short end of a 25-15 verdict.
“Fighting until the end was a way of showing how bad we wanted it,” Wolowicz said. “We have worked our butts off and had the most intense practice. To lose this was crappy, but we fought as hard as we possibly could the whole time.”
Wolowicz had eight kills in her final game in a Ships uniform. Alyssa Fischer recorded 11 digs.
Mallory Dixon had a team-high 20 assists to go along with four blocks.
Lincoln leaves its third-ever state tournament still in search of its first win on the big stage. That will be a matter to tackle in another season.
“In a sense, we’re just happy to be here. We would have liked to have a done a little better,” Mary Beth Dixon said. “We would have liked to have played they way we know we can play.”
For now, this year’s bunch left the court with a bounty of memories, not the least of which was the roar of the crowd as they stepped out of the tunnel.
“I guess I didn’t expect that many people to be there,” Wolowicz said. “When we walked out, the crowd started going nuts. It gave us a bit of a shock, a good shock. We were really really happy that everybody was there.”
Even Henry, who will be back next season will always treasure the moments she shared with this particular group.
“My team is such a family. This team was special. That’s what I’ll remember most,” Henry said. “I may not remember every game, but I’ll remember the team.”