By PAUL WHITT
For The Daily News
GILLETT, Wis. – Riding the momentum from their improbable regional final comeback at Florence Saturday night, the Goodman/Pembine Patriots rolled to a 3-1 (25-13, 23-25, 25-21, 25-13) victory against the M&O conference champion Suring Eagles Thursday night. With the win, the Patriots advance to the final eight for the first time in either school’s history.
“First of all, making history for both of these schools is so incredible,” said Patriot Coach Ashley Kalkofen. “What it has meant to both schools, the communities, and these players means so much. It’s really exciting to think about.”
In front of a packed gym, the Patriots jumped out to an early 10-3 lead before the Eagles responded to pull within three at 13-10. But Goodman/Pembine captured points on what proved to be the longest volleys of the night, and regained the momentum to cruise to the first-set win.
“We knew Suring would be scrappy, and they showed that tonight,” said Kalkofen. “The ball hardly ever hit the floor. Everything we sent over they returned. We had to work hard to answer at times and we did.”
It looked like set two would be more of the same as the Patriots sprinted out to a 9-2 lead. But Suring refused to quit and began to gain confidence at the net, and took their first lead in the match at 17-16.
Goodman/Pembine finished the set in a serving slump, surrendering three points on service errors over a four serve span, the last giving the Eagles the 25-23 game two win.
Set three started evenly, with neither team gaining more than a two point advantage early on. But Goodman/Pembine senior Rachel Stankevich used one of her team high 13 kills to spark the Patriots, and they led 19-11.
Sensing the momentum slipping, Suring went on a 7-0 run to close the lead to 19-18, forcing a Goodman/Pembine timeout. The Patriots regained their composure, and senior Courtney Goyak contributed one of her ten kills to end the Eagle run, and close out the third set 25-21.
“I thought Courtney played so consistent throughout the game,” Kalkofen said. “We needed that.”
“I’m so proud with the way our team stuck together when Suring got the momentum,” Goyak said. “We were unified and confident, and we played like it. It was a great feeling.”
Goodman/Pembine seemed to have full confidence as the fourth set began and were never challenged. After a kill by Miranda Kelly stopped a brief Suring run at 16-8, the Patriots coasted to the 25-13 win, and a spot in the sectional final.
“I’m ecstatic to think we’re making history,” Goyak said. “It’s great for our communities and shows how hard we work. It’s also fun to think that people around the state are going to have to look up Goodman and Pembine on a map because they’ve never heard of us.”
Goodman/Pembine will face off against Newman Catholic at Marathon Saturday at 7pm.
Kills – Rachel Stankevich 13, Courtney Goyak 10, Kayleigh Betka 6: Team total 33
Assists – Marissa Moloney 59, Britney Stepien 20, Stankevich 12
Serve Aces Betka 5, Stankevich 3: Team total 17
Blocks Stankevich 3 solo, 3 assist; Goyak 2 solo, 5 assist; Gabrielle Johnson 6 assists.