High School Volleyball: Hawks on to regional finals

Team wraps up home play undefeated

Leader Photo by Jacy Zollar Shawano Community High School freshman Rachel Reed, left, and junior Tori DePerry double-block in Thursday’s sweep over Oconto Falls.

Leader Photo by Jacy Zollar Shawano Community High School junior Julia Klement attacks the ball during Thursday’s sweep over Oconto Falls. The Hawks will play in the WIAA Division 2 regional final at Notre Dame on Saturday.

Shawano remained undefeated at home after sweeping Oconto Falls on Thursday to advance to the WIAA regional finals for the first time since 2010.

“It’s indescribable how we feel right now,” Shawano head coach Breanna Young said.

The Hawks topped the Panthers 25-6, 25-18 and 25-17 before a roaring gymnasium crowd.

“It was crazy,” senior Brandi Gueths said. “Even from the beginning, we had such a high energy just coming out on the court for warmups. For the first five points, everyone in the gym was so hyper and it just continued through the whole game. It was one of those games where everything worked and everyone was just happy.”

Julia Klement took the Hawks to set point in a seemingly effortless first match, and Bayleigh Laabs’ attack secured the set 25-6.

The Panthers played better in the final two sets to close the deficit, but the Hawks answered every challenge.

Oconto Falls (23-15-1) kept up with Shawano (27-9) for the first four points of Set 2, but the Hawks took off with 12 of the next 15 points to lead 16-7. The Panthers trimmed the deficit to 19-15, but Averi Vomastic’s kill started a Shawano rally to close the set 25-18.

The Panthers took their only lead of the night, 2-1, in Set 3. Oconto Falls kept up with Shawano for the first half of the set, but the Hawks cruised to a 24-17 set point. A block by Gueths ended the match 25-17.
Vomastic and Rachel Reed each tallied nine kills for the Hawks. Bayleigh Laabs recorded 17 assists, and Kyra Klement tallied 14 digs.

Sarah Sprout led Oconto Falls with seven kills. Kaitlyn St. Louis had 12 assists, and Samantha Coron tallied 16 digs.

“I have to give it to Shawano,” Oconto Falls head coach Rachel Otto said. “You know what, they brought their A-game. All of their hitters were getting the job done. They just played better than us, plain and simple.

“We had it tough on the first match, but I love that they didn’t give up in the second and third sets. They had moments where they gained momentum, but we just fell short.”

“We knew they were going to be a competitive team,” Young said. “It was a good match when we played them earlier this season. They have some strong hitters, but we just kept moving on defense and were able to shut down their offense.”

Gueths said her team felt the pressure in the final two sets.

“We definitely felt the ease in Set 1,” she said. “So when the next sets got tougher, we just had to keep our team chemistry together and we knew we would be able to keep the lead the rest of the game.”

Fourth-seeded Shawano travels to top-seeded Notre Dame on Saturday for a Division 2 regional final. Notre Dame defeated No. 8 Wrightstown in five sets Thursday.

“It hasn’t really hit me yet,” Gueths said. “We still all have the same mentality, we just need to focus in practice and give it 100 percent. This is what we’ve practiced for. This is what we’ve been going for since the start of the season.”

“The girls just come into these games with so much energy and natural confidence in themselves and each other,” Young said. “They have complete faith that they can continue toward their state goal as long as they keep their heads in the game and trust each other.

“(Wednesday) at practice I told them that every team is going to be harder than the last, and they just need to go out there and aim to play better than ever before. I think they did that tonight, and I know they’ll do it on Saturday.”