HG, Oostburg gear up for another battle

by Greg Ceilley of The Review staff


ALI SCHUELER of Howards Grove attempts to spike over Oostburg’s Jaidyn Hranicka in a regular-season volleyball match Oct. 8. Oostburg’s Jo-Leigh VerVelde (4) backs up Hranicka. The CLC rivals meet in a sectional semifinal match Thursday, Oct. 31. — Review photo by Greg Ceilley ALI SCHUELER of Howards Grove attempts to spike over Oostburg’s Jaidyn Hranicka in a regular-season volleyball match Oct. 8. Oostburg’s Jo-Leigh VerVelde (4) backs up Hranicka. The CLC rivals meet in a sectional semifinal match Thursday, Oct. 31. — Review photo by Greg Ceilley If their first three encounters this season are any indication, the Division 3 girls sectional volleyball semifinal match between perennial powers Howards Grove and Oostburg should be a quite a battle.

Oostburg has defeated the rival Tigers in all three matches, including two in Central Lakeshore Conference play, but they were hard-earned victories. The sectional match will be held Thursday, Oct. 31 at New Holstein, starting at 7 p.m.

The winner advances to the finals Saturday at Lake Country Lutheran (Hartland) at 7 p.m. against the Racine St. Catherine’s-Kenosha Christian Life semifinal winner with a state berth at stake.

The Lady Dutch, 42-3 on the season, are the twotime defending D-3 state champions and ranked No. 1 in the Wisconsin Volleyball Coaches Association D-3 poll. They won the CLC title and Howards was second. The Tigers, 37-8, are ranked No. 5 in D-3.

“I see it being close. With rally scoring, the momentum can change so fast,” said Tiger head coach Brett Damrow. “The match should be full of highlevel plays and great intensity.”

“It’s going to be a great match,” said Oostburg head coach Scott Greupink. “It’s been a great rivalry for many years.”

“The keys to Oostburg winning [against Howards this season] was their overall athletic ability in the back row, and our inability to stop their rallies, and some unforced errors,” said Damrow. “I’m very impressed with the overall athletic ability of their team.

“The outcome will hinge on who makes the athletic plays and good decisions in key situations. Also, it will depend on who minimizes the other team’s runs and not making mental mistakes.”

Damrow pointed out other keys for his team to have a shot at pulling off the upset.

“The keys are serving over 90 percent, minimizing our mental and physical errors, and being in system as often as we can. Also, setting up a strong block so their hitters have to work around it,” he said.

“The keys for teams at this time of year are having a consistent high level of play,” said Greupink.

“Howards Grove is a very good team. They play really, really hard. They have competed real hard every time against us this year.

Greupink noted the keys for his team in this match.

“Everyone on the team has to do her job. We need a solid effort from everyone,” he stressed. “We have to be going forward [with improvement],” said the veteran Lady Dutch coach.

Damrow explained his team’s mindset heading into the match.“The first thing we talked about Monday at practice was that it’s a new season and we can throw the records out and start fresh.

“Visualize being successful and trust yourself and your training. Visualize and believe in the process and the game plan,” Damrow told the team.

“We can only control what we can control, so make the smart decisions. The last couple of days we were focused on clearing our heads and concentrating on the execution of our game plan.

“We had a very good week of practice. When we play our best, we can compete at the highest level,” added the Tiger coach.

Junior outside hitter Ali Schueler leads the Tigers in kills this season with 497. Junior setter Autumn Risch has team-high 965 assists and 85 serving aces.

Senior middle blocker Courtney Milz leads Howards in blocks with 54. Senior defensive specialist Valerie Free has a team-best 492 digs and 534 successful serve receives.

Senior outside hitter/setter Jo-Leigh VerVelde leads Oostburg in kills with 426, ace serves, 193 and assists, 592. Sophomore middle and outside hitter Janeese VerVelde has a team-high 81 blocks. Senior libero (back-row specialist) and defensive specialist Maranda Huibregtse leads in digs with 643 and successful serve receives, 308.


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