High School Volleyball: Bonduel falls in regional match

Coach says team showed heart

Greg Bates, Leader Correspondent

With their high school careers on the line, Bonduel’s seniors weren’t ready to be done.

Down two sets against rival Wittenberg-Birnamwood, the Bears stole a third set and had momentum in the fourth. However, the Chargers scored 16 of 17 points at one point to cruise in the fourth set and win 3-1 (25-16, 25-13, 23-25, 25-11) in a WIAA Division 3 regional game on Thursday in Wittenberg.

“They know they put a lot of work in,” Bonduel coach Kim Strayer said, “and just to go down without a fight, it’s not in their makeup; not this group of seniors.”

“It just shows that we’re a strong team,” Bonduel senior Brynn Reinke said. “We lost a lot of seniors last year, so it was hard for us to do that. We didn’t have a lot of confidence, and once we started winning games and coming back we had a lot of confidence.”

No. 3 Wittenberg-Birnamwood beat No. 6 Bonduel twice during the regular season, and Strayer knew beating the Central Wisconsin Conference foe was going to be a tough task.

“Their confidence wavers a little bit, but this is probably my first team coaching in five years that’s not my most talented team but my most mentally tough that’s able to come back,” Strayer said. “When they put their mind to things, they can make stuff happen. I think we probably got beat by a team that had a lot more talent than us, so I think our girls showed a lot of heart.”

Bonduel (15-17) took a 7-5 lead in the opening set, but Wittenberg-Birnamwood (20-20) went on a 16-5 run to pull away for a 25-16 victory. The Chargers led wire-to-wire in the second set, winning 25-13 and putting Bonduel in a must-win situation the rest of the night.

The Bears trailed 18-14 and came back to tie the third set at 22. Wittenberg-Birnamwood scored the next point, but a kill from Megan Zeitler, another point by Bonduel and a Grace Petcka block kill sealed the 25-23 win for the Bears.

“We kept talking as a team and we kept playing as a team and kept our confidence up,” Reinke said. “We knew that it could be the last game for the seniors, so everyone played hard.”

Strayer was pleased with how the season panned out after so much uncertainty coming into the year.

“I went into the season not really knowing what to expect,” Strayer said. “Graduated a huge group of seniors, had pretty much four open spots coming into the season. Saying, ‘These are up for grabs. Who’s going to go for them?’ The way that they filled in those spots and came together, they ended up with a record that coming into the season I’m a little bit surprised about – in a good way.”

The loss means the end of the careers for four Bonduel seniors: Reinke, Zernicke, Althea Berry and Christine Sell.

Strayer got to coach all four girls their entire high school careers.

“Very dedicated, awesome teammates,” Strayer said. “They are great leaders, great role models on and off the court. I have nothing but wonderful things to say about this group of girls. I will miss them a lot.”