Gresham wins in close match

Wildcats erase 9-3 deficit in final set

Greg Bates, Leader Correspondent

It looked grim for Gresham, but then the seniors stepped up big.

Down 9-3 in the fifth set against Tigerton, Gresham coach Tim Wild called a timeout to get his girls regrouped.

“I just told them it’s up to them,” he said. “They’ve got to go out there and got to want it more and play to the end. It’s not over until that last point is scored.”

The girls responded by scoring 12 of the set’s final 15 points en route to a 15-12 victory. That gave Gresham a five-set win (18-25, 25-23, 25-16, 22-25, 15-12) in a Central Wisconsin Conference-North showdown Tuesday at Gresham.

“We knew it was going to be close,” Wild said. “We played them in the summer – very evenly matched teams. It just came down to wanting it in the end.”

It’s early in the conference schedule, but both teams came into the match with 2-0 records.

Tigerton (6-6, 2-1 CWC) led 9-3 in the fifth set, but after Wild’s timeout, the Gresham players settled in.

“I’m not going to lie, I got down on myself,” Gresham senior Hailey Hoffman said. “But, we thought about who wanted it more. And from there we just kind of picked up momentum.”

Hoffman had a big kill to bring her team within four, 10-6. Fellow senior Kiersten Fischer added a kill, and another Hoffman spike tied the score at 11-11. Fischer found a hole in Tigerton’s defensive and dropped in a tip to give Gresham its second lead of the set, 12-11. A hitting error by Tigerton put Gresham on match point, 14-11. Hoffman had a shot to end the match and pounded down a kill for the win.

After Tigerton took the opening set 25-18, it looked as though the Tigers would take the second set and possibly cruise to a sweep. However, Gresham clawed back from a 13-9 deficit in the second to tie it at 20. Tigerton took the next three points, but Gresham got a pair of aces from Hoffman to pull off a 25-23 win.

In the third set, Gresham (10-3, 3-0 CWC) went on a 14-2 run, fueled by four aces from Hoffman, to take a comfortable 21-9 lead. The Wildcats closed out the set, 25-16, as Kamille Davids tallied six kills off the bench.

Tigerton led all but once in the fourth set, as the visitors forced a winner-take-all fifth with a 25-22 victory.

Hoffman finished with a team-high 15 kills and eight aces.

Karisa Nietzer added 13 kills, and Mackenzie Hoffman came through with 18 digs. Dani Huntington registered a team-leading 30 assists.

Wild knows his girls could have gotten down after falling in the fourth set, but the resolve of his team showed.

“I’m really proud of these girls,” Wild said. “Some of these girls never came off the court. It was a close match all night long, it’s hot in here and they found a way to work through it, keep the energy all the way until that last point. I can’t say enough about what they did.”