Tigers earn D-3 state championship

by Greg Ceilley
of The Review staff


HOWARDS GROVE team members hoist the gold ball championship trophy after defeating Oshkosh Lourdes in the D-3 volleyball finals Saturday. – Photo by Terry Schaller HOWARDS GROVE team members hoist the gold ball championship trophy after defeating Oshkosh Lourdes in the D-3 volleyball finals Saturday. – Photo by Terry Schaller GREEN BAY – Everything came up golden for the Howards Grove Tigers Saturday afternoon as they won the school’s first girls volleyball state championship since 1976 with a 26-24, 25-13, 25-21 sweep over Oshkosh Lourdes Academy in the Division 3 finals at the Resch Center.

“It’s an amazing feeling knowing that all of our hard work paid off,” said Howards Grove senior setter Taylor Bubolz about her team winning the gold ball state championship trophy.

“It makes it even better sharing it with girls I’ve been playing with since fourth grade. I knew we could do it,” said Bubolz. “I’m extremely proud of my team.”

“It’s amazing. It hasn’t really sunk in yet. It’s like a dream for me,” said Tiger senior libero Brittany Schaller.


ADDI GERBER of Howards Grove scores a kill over an Oshkosh Lourdes player in Saturday’s D-3 state volleyball title match. – Photo by Terry Schaller ADDI GERBER of Howards Grove scores a kill over an Oshkosh Lourdes player in Saturday’s D-3 state volleyball title match. – Photo by Terry Schaller “It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to be state champions. It’s the greatest feeling ever.

I’m really proud of everyone who is a part of this program. They all played a crucial role. The coaching staff has done a great job,” said Schaller.

The No. 1-ranked Tigers ended their season with a 42-4 dual record and a 15-dual winning streak. Lourdes, which defeated Athens in the semifinals Friday, finished 37-11.

The Tigers were strong in all phases – hitting, defense, serving and serve reception/passing. Outstanding passing and setting were crucial to the Tigers’ impressive attack at the net. HG led the Knights in kills by an outstanding 49-34.

Senior outside hitter Sam Yancy ignited the Tigers’ hitting with 22 kills. Olivia Stauss had 11 kills, followed by Bubolz with eight. Bubolz had a team-high 35 assists.

Stauss paced HG in ace serves with five and Bubolz had three. Lourdes had zero aces. Schaller led her team in digs with 16 and Stauss and Yancy contributed 13 and 10, respectively. Stauss had one solo block.

The Tigers shook off a slow start to the match as they fell behind 4-0 in game one but regrouped and took a 6-5 lead.

The Knights reeled off six unanswered points to take a 16-10 lead, keyed by Rachel Aasby’s two kills. HG rallied to tie the match, 22-22, with three straight points on two tip kills and a spike kill by Stauss.

After a serving error by HG gave the Knights a 24-23 lead, the Tigers scored three straight points to pull out a 26-24 victory. Yancy’s spike kill tied the match, 24-24. A hitting error by Lourdes put HG up 25-24 and then Yancy sealed the deal with a tip kill.


BRETT DAMROW, Howards Grove head coach, hugs seniors Sam Yancy (left) and Brittany Schaller after the Tigers won the state volleyball championship Saturday. – Photo by Terry Schaller BRETT DAMROW, Howards Grove head coach, hugs seniors Sam Yancy (left) and Brittany Schaller after the Tigers won the state volleyball championship Saturday. – Photo by Terry Schaller The Tigers blew out to an 11-3 lead in game two and were in command the rest of the set. HG had an outstanding team effort on offense and defense. The Tigers scored several points on well-placed hits to open spots.

Yancy had a team-high six kills in the second game. Stauss had two ace serves and three kills.

In the third set, HG seized a 3-0 lead and were ahead the rest of the way. The Tigers scored eight points on errors by Lourdes. Yancy keyed the Tigers’ attack with seven kills, including five on spikes.

“I owe it [state title] all to these athletes, the parents and the community because of what we asked them [athletes] to do – all of the hours in the gym,” said Tiger head coach Brett Damrow after the match.

“It’s a great feeling [winning state]. I don’t even know how to put it into words. These athletes truly trusted their training and we relied on that this afternoon.

“We got a taste of it [state tourney] two years ago and we wanted more. Their work ethic is awesome and it started in sixth grade,” said Damrow who completed his 12th season as the Tigers’ head coach.

The Tigers competed at state two years ago and lost in the semifinals to eventual champion Waterloo.

“They’re [the Knights are] going to put pressure on you and I was very proud of how we handled that pressure. You have to give Lourdes all the credit in the world,” said Damrow.

Schaller thought the keys to the win were staying together as a team, keeping the communication up, and good serving and serve receiving which led to attacks.

“Howards Grove is a very good team. We put our best against them and they just had the better outcome of the match for this time,” said Knight head coach Trudi Woods.

“The key [to the outcome] was our block. We were beat at the net.”

Aasby led Lourdes in kills with 14. Hollie Bartlett had a teamhigh 22 assists. Raechel Russo and Morgan Thiel led in digs with 14 each.


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