Cardinals spikers can’t close on titleCASHTON — There was a valuable lesson to be learned even amidst so much anguish.
By: Sean Scallon, Pierce County Herald
CASHTON — There was a valuable lesson to be learned even amidst so much anguish.
Never miss an opportunity to put away.
Spring Valley High School’s volleyball team had a 2-0 lead on No. 2 ranked Potosi in the finals of the WIAA Division 4 Cashton Sectional tournament Saturday evening. One more win would send the Cardinals to their first-ever state tournament.
But, Potosi was able to stay alive with a Game 3 win and then rallied to win the final two games to go to its first state tournament since 2002 where they won the state title. They’ll play the No. 1 ranked team in Division 4, Burlington Catholic Central, in the state semifinals Friday.
Spring Valley will have to keep waiting for its next best chance to play for its first-ever state appearance, but in the meantime no one will forget the lesson driven home by this experience.
Spring Valley played some of its best ball since the Plum City match in Games 1 and 2 against the Chieftains, 28-3 overall.
In Game 1, the Cardinals were able to use Potosi mistakes along with kills from Leia Ellefson, Hannah Utecht and Aarynn Deutsch at the net to take the early lead at 9-4 which they expanded to may and seven at 14-7 and held onto despite a late Potosi rally that tied the score at 20-20 and put the Chieftains ahead 21-20. Back-to-back kills by Ellefson and a kill by Utecht gave SV a 25-22 win.
Spring Valley then dominated Potosi in Game 2 to win 25-18 with Utectht and Deutsch using their height and long arms effectively against the Chieftains.
“We were really fired up to play those first two games,” Spring Valley head coach Kelli Schlegel said. “We knew we could play with anyone in the state. We didn’t let their ranking intimidate us and we played great. We did what we needed to win both games. We controlled the net and served well.”
It was the first time Spring Valley led a match 2-0 since Plum City and it was not a feeling the Cards were recently used to, having come-from-behind to win tournament games against Cochrane-Fountain City and Royall. To be ahead 2-0 against the No. 2 team in the state and just game away from winning the sectional title and making from your first-ever state tournament would bring about some giddiness that would cause a little lack of focus. It’s natural human reaction.
Unfortunately, it was also the window Potosi used to make its comeback.
The Chieftains took the early lead in Game 3, 8-3 and went up by as much as 11 points at 21-10 for an eventual 25-14 win.
Potosi improved their blocking as junior Brianne Reising senior Allison Tobin and senior Thersia Elskamp took away Spring Valley’s edge at the net by sending back spike after spike. The Chiefs’ backrow, also, improved their play to take away any easy points they gave up in the first two games. Potosi’s offense came alive as senior Danielle Flesch and junior Katie Reynolds began sending spikes across the net like missiles towards Cardinal defenders, one of which (by Flesch) knocked a Spring Valley player off her feet. And the Chieftains received good serving from senior Morgan Lass.
The Chieftains didn’t have any head-toppers and were about the same as Spring Valley and maybe a little smaller. But they jumped like jackrabbits and by Games 3-5 they finally showed why they were so highly ranked.
“We never stopped playing hard but we didn’t play as well,” Schlegel said. “They used our mistakes to go give themselves the energy they needed to keeping playing. They used momentum and the energy from the crowd to fire them up and we couldn’t respond in the same fashion.”
Spring Valley got off to a good start in Game 4, leading by four at 8-4, 9-5 and 10-6 with kills from Utecht, Kimmy Keehr and Alyssa Gould
But kills and blocks from Reising, Flesch, Reynolds and Tobin began to be too much for SV. A block by Tobin put Potosi ahead 16-14 and the Chieftains went on 9-3 run to win Game 4, 25-17.
Spring Valley came back from a 3-1 deficit to keep Game 5 even for much of the duration. A kill by Ellefson had the Cards only down a point at 12-11. But back-to-back kills by Flesch gave her team a critical three-point cushion at 14-11. A Deutsch kills gave SV the serve again down 14-12 but Flesch put them away with a wicked kill and final score 15-12.
Thus the lesson.
This Spring Valley team will go down as one of the school’s best with a 43-8 overall record, an undefeated Dunn-St. Croix championship, a regional title and sectional runner-up status. The tears flowed easily afterwards due to the premature good-byes. But there was, also, a deserved round of applause by the many Spring Valley fans, who made the trip to Cashton, for all that was accomplished.
“I’m going to miss pretty much everything about this team, whether it was the senior leadership, the energy, the drive to win and just wonderful team chemistry and positive feelings they had,” Schlegel said. “They worked so hard and well together, you want to keep it going another week but we missed that opportunity. We have a lot to look back at and be proud of and hopefully the next time we reach this point we’ll make that next step as soon as we can.”