Tigers’ serving, passing keys at state

by Greg Ceilley
of The Review staff


BRITTANY SCHALLER, Howards Grove senior libero, serve receives in a volleyball match earlier thus season. Schaller leads the Tigers in digs with 475. – Photo by Terry Schaller BRITTANY SCHALLER, Howards Grove senior libero, serve receives in a volleyball match earlier thus season. Schaller leads the Tigers in digs with 475. – Photo by Terry Schaller HOWARDS GROVE – Ball control and winning the first contact will be crucial in the Howards Grove Tigers’ Division 3 state girls volleyball semifinal match against La Crosse Aquinas.

The teams square off Friday at 1 p.m. at the Resch Center in Green Bay. The Tigers come in with a 40-4 record and are ranked No. 1 in the Wisconsin Volleyball Coaches Association D-3 poll. The Blugolds, 26-4, are ranked No. 3 in D-3.

“We need to serve and pass better than they do,” said Tiger head coach Brett Damrow.

Damrow pointed out the other keys for his team to win the match:

“Staying within our abilities and relying on our mental toughness to allow ourselves to play our best and get out of our own way. Don’t think, just trust our training and scouting report, and just react,” he said.


SAM YANCY, senior outside hitter for Howards Grove, hammers a spike in volleyball action earlier this season. Yancy leads the Tigers in kills and solo blocks. – Photo by Terry Schaller SAM YANCY, senior outside hitter for Howards Grove, hammers a spike in volleyball action earlier this season. Yancy leads the Tigers in kills and solo blocks. – Photo by Terry Schaller Damrow thinks Aquinas is similar to the Tigers’ 2014 state tournament team which lost to eventual champion Waterloo in the semifinals. This year’s HG team has four players who were starters on the 2014 squad – seniors Sam Yancy, Brittany Schaller, Addi Gerber and Emily Schmid.

“They look very similar to our team two years ago. They have really good ball control with a talented and aggressive setter and an undersized outside attacker kind of like Ali Schueler [2015 HG graduate] who can do many things,” said Damrow.

“They don’t look like they make many errors and are always putting pressure on the other teams. Their leadership looks to come from their setter and libero [senior Danielle Dolan] and outside attacker [senior Courtney Conway].”

Dolan leads the Blugolds in assists with 780. Conway has a team-high 267 kills.

Damrow said his team’s state experience, and having played strong competition this season always helps but emphasized that the girls need to allow that experience to take over.

The Tigers’ attack is led by Yancy, an outside hitter, with 484 kills (11.5 per set). Senior setter Taylor Bubolz had a teamhigh 922 assists. Senior setter Paige Splittgerber leads in ace serves with 70.

Schaller, a libero, leads HG in digs with 475. Yancy has a teamhigh 34 solo blocks.

Damrow said the keys to his team’s outstanding season thus far are consistency and the ability to focus on the task at hand.

The coach explained what the team’s goals are going into the state tourney.

“Every team at state wants to win the gold ball and we are in the same position. We have talked about our goal [winning state] but didn’t make it a priority,” he said.

“Our No. 1 goal was to get better and train for perfection. Even though in volleyball perfection is not attainable. If we train for perfection, excellence and amazing will happen at times and you can’t be afraid of it.”

Damrow gave his thoughts on the team’s play and mindset coming into state.

“The team is excited to have the opportunity to continue to practice and still improve. We still have room for improvement. If we focus on getting better, everything else will fall in place,” he said.

“We want to thank the school, community and parents for their support and continued support throughout our state run, no matter the outcome. We will compete and play our hearts out.”

The HG-Aquinas winner will face the Oshkosh Lourdes Academy Athens semifinal winner in the championship match Saturday at 11:30 a.m. at the Resch Center.


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Bitter Neumann