Lady Cats, Patriots for region title
By RON DEUTER
FLORENCE, Wis. – WIAA Division 4 tournament volleyball teams in need of a scouting report on the Florence Bobcats need to know just one thing.
No lead is safe.
Florence, finding a way to erase a 14-3 deficit to win the first set, held of a feisty Three Lakes 25-17, 25-18, 22-25, 25-22 Thursday night in regional semifinal action.
The Lady Cats advance to the regional final and will host Goodman-Pembine, which defeated Phelps 3-1, Saturday at 7 p.m.
“This match was everything I thought it was going to be,” Florence head coach Trudy Rochon said. “I’ve been a wreck all week because tonight’s match was exactly how this battle has gone this season.”
“We’ve played them three times now in the last four weeks, and thank goodness they’ve all been in Florence because when you are playing a team that scrappy, that can be the difference in a game.”
Home court aside, the difference in this match came in the middle in Florence’s Emma Baumgart. Slamming 15 kills and doubling as a brick wall on defense with 9 solo blocks – while getting her hands on probably triple that many – Baumgart spearheaded Florence’s aggressive attack.
“She stepped up and shut down their big hitter, and pretty soon they are trying to tip and do other things,” Rochon said.
Baumgart was one of the biggest, but certainly not the only piece of the puzzle that Three Lakes couldn’t solve. The Lady Cats were firing from all over the floor, rarely settling for an over ball and tipping by design rather than necessity.
Aly Young dropped eight kills, and Jessica Glime added another six. Back row defensive standouts included Erin Walker with nine digs and Keaghan Doda with seven.
Spot-on setting was led by Young with 12 assists and Keaghan Doda with six.
Florence, which could get nothing going early, started to turn the tide in set one when Walker dropped a back row attack just inside the line. Then with Baumgart frustrating Three Lakes front row, the Lady Cats picked up a half dozen points off errors.
Glime then slammed one down for a point, and Walker followed with a pair of aces to knot the set 15-15. Two more Three Lakes’ errors gave the Bobcats the lead. Aces by Young and kills by Baumgart sealed the set down the stretch, as Florence closed on a stunning 22-3 run.
“All of a sudden we were getting some blocks on the ball, and that took them out of their rhythm,” Rochon said. “And then we really started attacking the ball.”
“We’ve had some big comebacks, but probably not that big or against a team of that caliber. And we needed that one for sure.”
While Florence rode their momentum to a comfortable win in set two, the Blue Jays took control late in the third to prevent a sweep.
Florence led 18-15 in the third set before Erika Running started connecting. Leading the Blue Jays with 10 kills in the match, Running notched a key pair as Three Lakes rallied to draw even at 18.
The set was tied 20-20 and again at 22-22 before Three Lake’s middle Abbie Zielke (7 kills) twice found a hole in the Florence defense, the second attack forcing fourth set.
Three Lakes jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the fourth, but the set tightened thanks to a couple of points from Young on the outside and a block by Baumgart.
Tight the rest of the way, a tip by Zielke and a slam from Julie Jacob (9 kills) had Three Lakes up 22-20.
Baumgart answered with a solid spike of her own, and then a Three Lake’s hitting error tied the set once again.
Kristien Schroeder then delivered the biggest of her team-best four aces to put the Bobcats in front. Baumgart blocked the next Three Lakes attempt and clinched it on the next point with a heavy swing to the left side.
Doors will open at 6 p.m. for Saturday’s regional final against Goodman-Pembine. Admission is $4.
The Lady Cats were 2-0 against the Patriots this season, winning 25-22, 25-19, 13-25, 25-23 on Sept. 17, and 25-13, 25-14, 21-25, 25-21 on Oct. 10.
“I’m expecting another huge battle,” Rochon said. “The Northern Lakes this year was super competitive, which was great. It’s going to be a battle.”
Goodman knocked off Phelps 3-1 (25-14, 22-25, 25-6, 25-14) Thursday in its semifinal. Courtney Goyak slammed team bests with nine kills and six blocks. Rachel Stankevich had eight kills and eight of the team’s 23 service aces. Kayleigh Betka added seven kills.
Emma Baumgart – 15 kills, 9 blocks, 1 dig, 100-percent serving; Keaghan Doda – 2 kills, 6 assists, 7 digs; Erin Walker – 2 kills, 9 digs, 2 aces; Aubree Dumke – 2 digs; Jessica Glime – 6 kills, 1 block, 7 digs, 100-percent serving; Aly Young – 8 kills, 1 block, 12 assists, 6 digs, 3 aces; Kristen Schroeder – 1 kill, 4 digs, 4 aces, 100-percent serving.