ASHWAUBENON — Gritty. Determined. Clutch.
All three aptly describe the Appleton North girls’ volleyball team in its victory over Greendale in a WIAA Division 1 state quarterfinal Thursday at the Resch Center.
The Lightning defeated the fifth-ranked Panthers 25-23, 28-26, 12-25, 25-16 in a match that saw several lead changes throughout each set.
Ninth-ranked North (35-9) advances to play second-ranked Divine Savior Holy Angels (44-5) in a semifinal Friday at 7 p.m. DSHA defeated D.C. Everest 27-25, 25-15, 25-16 to advance.
“Some of those rallies had to be well over a minute on both sides,” Appleton North coach Steve Scheuerell said. “There was so much heart. There was great hustle. Our girls came out ready to play and they executed at a high level. We got to game three and we just lost it for a little bit, but I’m so proud of them. They didn’t lose their confidence, and they came back in game four and they were not to be stopped.
“They executed on defense and we always talk about defense is like reverse dodgeball, and watching that game when we get the chance to get some of the ups and some of the constant battling they did. I was super proud of this team.”
Appleton North got critical contributions from sophomore hitter Mikaylah Van Lanen and reserve senior hitter Alyssa Wolslegel in the first two sets. Senior rightside Cami Phillips also had the game-clinching kill to allow the Lightning to escape with the two-point win the first set.
“One of our sayings is ‘unquenchable thirst,’ ” Phillips said. “And ever since our first playoff game we just go, go go. We know what we need to do. It’s an unquenchable thirst and we can’t reach it. So we play to our highest level. And we’re so pumped up. It’s good.”
In the second set, North faced game point on two occasions late but a combo block from Lauren Swanson and Phillips and back-to-back kills from Wolslegel gave North a 2-0 advantage in thrilling fashion.
Greendale raced to an early lead and cruised to the win in the third set, handing North its first set loss in the postseason. North quickly recovered, however, and rode the hitting of Jenna Miller, Amanda Rohrs and Van Lanen to pull out the fourth set and advance.
Wolslegel had 17 kills, with Van Lanen adding 11 to lead North. Miller had nine kills and eight digs, with Emily Rohloff chipping in 23 assists and 12 digs. Maddy Ahrens also had 21 assists, 16 digs and three aces for the Lightning, with Clare Christopher contributing 22 digs.
Lauren Litzau had 17 kills and 17 digs to pace Greendale.
“This is one of the best moments ever,” Miller said. “It’s a great feeling because just knowing that we can come back tomorrow and do the same thing and, hopefully, the next day after that.”
Appleton North beat Greendale 25-23, 28-26, 12-25, 25-16. Appleton North leaders: Alyssa Wolslegel 17 kills; Mikayla Van Lanen 11 kills; Jenna Miller 9 kills, 8 digs; Emily Rohloff 23 assists, 12 digs; Maddy Ahrens 21 assists, 16 digs, 3 aces; Clare Christopher 22 digs. Greendale leaders: Lauren Litzau 17 kills, 17 digs; Kayce Listau 11 kills, 27 assists, 4 digs; Nicole Martin 11 kills; Ally Bialo 10 kills; Dani Litzau 23 assists, 3 aces; Jessica Grabowski 18 digs; Sarah Grabowski 12 digs.
Ricardo Arguello: 920-993-1000, ext. 558, or email@example.com; on Twitter @PCRicardo