Tigers win thriller, advance to state

by Greg Ceilley
of The Review staff


THE HOWARDS GROVE Tigers celebrate winning the sectional volleyball title Saturday night against Lake Country Lutheran. The Tigers earned a trip to state. – Photo by Terry Schaller THE HOWARDS GROVE Tigers celebrate winning the sectional volleyball title Saturday night against Lake Country Lutheran. The Tigers earned a trip to state. – Photo by Terry Schaller SHEBOYGAN – The Howards Grove Tigers won a thrilling, fivegame match against Lake Country Lutheran (Hartland) in the Division 3 girls volleyball sectional finals Saturday night to earn their second state berth in the last three years.

The Tigers, ranked No. 1 in D-3, outlasted the No. 2-rated Lightning, 23-25, 25-16, 14-25, 25-23, 15-12 at Sheboygan South. HG avenged a five-game loss to the Lighting in last year’s sectional finals. The Tigers defeated Lutheran in a sectional title match two years ago.

HG, 39-4, will face No. 3-ranked La Crosse Aquinas in the state semifinals Friday at 1 p.m. at the Resch Center in Green Bay. Lutheran ended its season with a 21-6 record.

The Tigers used a 5-2 spurt to close out the deciding fifth game. The winning point came on a combined block kill by seniors Addi Gerber and Taylor Bubolz. Seniors Olivia Stauss and Sam Yancy contributed one spike kill each during the run.


EMILY BRUCKSCHEN (9) and Howards Grove teammate Olivia Stauss combine to hit the ball over the net in Saturday night’s sectional volleyball title match versus Lake Country Lutheran. – Photo by Terry Schaller EMILY BRUCKSCHEN (9) and Howards Grove teammate Olivia Stauss combine to hit the ball over the net in Saturday night’s sectional volleyball title match versus Lake Country Lutheran. – Photo by Terry Schaller After suffering a 25-14 rout in game three, the Tigers bounced back with a 25-23 win to even the match at 2-2. Yancy’s spike kill tied the score, 23-23. Two straight hitting errors by the Lightning secured the win for HG.

In game one, Yancy’s two straight spike kills gave her team a 23-22 lead. Brooke Anderson’s tip kill pulled Lutheran even, 23-23. Sarabeth Pankow gave the Lightning the victory with two consecutive ace serves.

The Tigers came back strong after the tough loss with an impressive 25-16 win in game two. Yancy sparked the Tigers’ attack with seven kills, all on spikes. She also had two ace serves.

“It feels amazing. I wanted this bad, we all did,” said Gerber, a middle blocker, after her team earned a trip to state.

“We didn’t want that feeling again [losing in the sectional finals], so we worked our butts off this season and it paid off.

“We played our hearts out. We’ve been working on blocking a lot lately and it paid off,” said Gerber.

The Tigers had an impressive 11 blocks against a strong-hitting team led by Anderson, a junior outside hitter. Yancy led HG in blocks with 4.5 and Stauss had three.

“I’m on cloud nine. This team is like family to me,” said Yancy, an outside hitter.

“I don’t think there’s a better group of people that work so well together. We believe so much in each other and that’s really what won the game [match] for us.

“We had amazing defense that gets every ball up. I’m so proud of every single player on our team. It was such a team effort,” said Yancy.

“I’m extremely humbled by this experience. This is unbelievable,” said Tiger head coach Brett Damrow after his team won the match.

“It’s truly unfortunate there had to be a loser in this game [match] but I’m so honored and happy that it was us on the winning end. I’m so proud of the team.

“Every kid on the team contributed. Our defense played unbelievable. Our block and defense were great. I loved our competitive spirit. We never doubted ourselves and we dug deep,” said Damrow.

Damrow said two keys to winning were the team’s conditioning and mental toughness.

The Tigers had an outstanding 87 digs, led by senior libero Brittany Schaller with 31. Yancy and Stauss contributed 22 and 16, respectively. Yancy keyed the Tigers’ attack with an impressive 23 kills and Stauss had 12.

Bubolz paced HG in assists with 40. Stauss had a team-high three ace serves, followed by Schaller and Yancy with two each. Freshman Emily Bruckschen and Bubolz led in serving accuracy with 93.8 percent each.


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