Hawks close strong year with regional final loss

Top-seed Notre Dame sweeps Shawano

Photo by Jody Ward Shawano Community High School sophomore Kyra Klement dives for the ball during a WIAA Division 2 regional final at Notre Dame on Saturday. The Hawks lost 25-7, 25-14 and 25-20.

Photo by Jody Ward Shawano Community High School junior Julia Klement attacks during Saturday’s WIAA Division 2 regional final at Notre Dame. The Tritons defeated Shawano 25-7, 25-14 and 25-20.

Shawano’s longest volleyball season since 2010 ended on Saturday with a loss to Notre Dame in a WIAA Division 2 regional final in Green Bay.

The top-seeded Tritons swept the No. 4 Hawks 25-7, 25-14 and 25-20 to advance to a sectional semifinal against No. 2 Luxemburg-Casco on Thursday.

“They gave it their all,” Shawano head coach Breanna Young said. “It hurts, but we fell short.

“This team was a coach’s dream. They have nothing to hang their heads about and everything to be proud of.”

The match was Shawano’s first away game in the postseason, but Hawks fans still filled three-fourths of the gymnasium.

“It was crazy,” Notre Dame head coach Ben Wolf said. “I was here an hour before the match and the doors opened and the Shawano fans just kept streaming in. It really made for a great atmosphere. It was just packed and so loud.”

Wolf said he utilized the fans in the game plan.

“I told my kids in the locker room that we had to keep their fans as out of it as we could, because they’re a big source of energy on the court for the girls,” he said. “I think a huge factor for us was getting up on them early and taking the fan base out of it as early as we could.”

Shawano’s Bayleigh Laabs served an ace to start the first set, but the Tritons took the next nine points and the game’s momentum. The Tritons threw off the Hawks’ defense with tips, and Shawano gave up several points on hitting errors to end the set 25-7.

Shawano took the first two points of Set 2 with a block by Tori DePerry and Brandi Gueths and a Triton hitting error. After a 7-7 tie, Notre Dame dominated the rest of the set for a 25-14 win.

The Hawks came out smiling to start the final set and played their closest match.

“We kind of just put it straight forward before the set and kept it light-hearted,” Vomastic said. “We just said that it was a really bad set, but we just had to go out and show them that we’re here to compete. We came back out on the court and got our jitters out, started passing better and played the best we had in all three sets.”

Shawano took the first point of Set 3 and kept a consistent two-point lead early. After Notre Dame rallied, a Julia Klement attack tied the score at 9-9. A string of Hawks errors gave Notre Dame the next four points and Shawano couldn’t close the gap before falling 25-20.

Vomastic led Shawano with nine kills followed by Julia Klement with six. Laabs recorded seven assists, and Kyra Klement tallied 14 digs.

“We knew coming in that Averi (Vomastic) and Julia (Klement) were their big outsides,” Wolf said. “Going into the match, we prepared by really trying to serve aggressively and keep them off the net. We executed the game plan to get the outsides out of their system to make them less powerful, and it worked enough to get us the win.”

Despite the loss, the Hawks are proud of their season.

“We set big goals for ourselves this year and achieved so many of them,” Young said.

The Hawks’ accomplishments include winning the Shawano Invitational, clinching first place at the Clintonville and Bay Conference tournaments, tying for the Bay Conference title, reigning undefeated at home and having five players earn all-conference awards, including the co-player of the year (Vomastic).

Vomastic is one of five seniors on the team.

“It’s been such a journey going from losing seasons to winning tournaments this year,” she said. “It’s been a roller-coaster of an experience for my seniors and me, but I wouldn’t change it for anything.”