Tigers earn sweep in state semifinals

by Greg Ceilley
of The Review staff

GREEN BAY – The Howards Grove Tigers were outstanding on offense and defense as they earned an impressive sweep over La Crosse Aquinas, 25-11, 25-21, 25-18, in a Division 3 girls state volleyball tournament semifinal match here Friday afternoon at the Resch Center.

The Tigers, ranked No. 1 in the Wisconsin Volleyball Coaches Association D-3 poll, upped their dual record to 41-4. The Blugolds, ranked No. 3, finished 32-4.

“Everything came together for this game [match]. Everyone knew what they were supposed to do. Everyone held themselves to certain standards and everyone met those standards,” said Tiger senior outside hitter Sam Yancy.

“We weren’t aiming for just this one game [match]. We’re aiming for the gold ball [championship trophy] and we’re not done yet,” said Yancy.

“We played super good. Everything was smooth. Everything came together,” said Tiger senior libero Brittany Schaller.


TAYLOR BUBOLZ (right) of Howards Grove tries to hit the ball past Lexi Donarski of Aquinas in the state volleyball semifinals Friday. The Tigers’ Addi Gerber (10) and Brittany Schaller look on. – Photo by Terry Schaller TAYLOR BUBOLZ (right) of Howards Grove tries to hit the ball past Lexi Donarski of Aquinas in the state volleyball semifinals Friday. The Tigers’ Addi Gerber (10) and Brittany Schaller look on. – Photo by Terry Schaller “We communicated really well. We got a lot of balls up [on defense]. We were really sound on defense. Our serve receive was awesome. The team effort was great,” said Schaller.

“It was a good match,” said Tiger head coach Brett Damrow. “We always talk about dealing with high emotions and making sure we let our skills and training take over.

“I really felt we won the first touch a lot today and that really helped. We knew Aquinas was going to be a good competitor and I thought we followed the game plan well. I’m truly happy for the community and the team.” said Damrow.


THE HOWARDS GROVE faithful cheer on the Tigers in Friday’s state volleyball semifinals against Aquinas. – Photo by Terry Schaller THE HOWARDS GROVE faithful cheer on the Tigers in Friday’s state volleyball semifinals against Aquinas. – Photo by Terry Schaller “We were in system a lot and we took them out of system a lot, and that was great,” said Damrow.

In game one, the Tigers grabbed a 6-2 lead and were in control the rest of the set. HG closed out the game with a 7-1 run, led by Yancy and senior Taylor Bubolz. Yancy had two spike kills and a block kill, and Bubolz served two aces during the stretch.

The Blugolds committed eight errors in the first set.

Yancy sparked the Tigers’ attack in game two with eight kills, including six on spikes. HG ran its offense well, keyed by strong serve reception/passing, and very accurate setting by Bubolz.

The Blugolds’ spiking and serving were better in game two. Aquinas used a 4-0 spurt to close to within 23-21, led by Courtney Conway’s two spike kills. The Tigers went up 24-21 on a kill by Yancy. The winning point came on a spike out of bounds by Aquinas.

In game three, the Tigers went on a 9-2 run to win the match after Aquinas had rallied from a 14-8 deficit to forge a 16-16 tie. Yancy had three spike kills to key the spurt. Bubolz had a tip kill and senior Olivia Stauss contributed a kill for the 24th and 25th points, respectively.

The Blugolds made three errors which gave HG three points during the stretch.

“It came to the point [in the third game] where every ball was important and we had people flying around and getting on the ground in ways we hadn’t seen all year, so these girls were not going down without a fight and I’m very proud of that,” said Blugold head coach Bri Ebenhoe.

“Once things get rolling, it’s hard to stop them. We got momentum shifting but it was just a little too late,” she said.

Yancy led the Tigers in kills for the match with an impressive 23, followed by Stauss and Bubolz with six each. Bubolz had a team-high 26 assists.

Bubolz led HG in ace serves with three and Stauss had two. Schaller had a team-high 15 digs and Stauss and Bubolz contributed seven each. Yancy led in solo blocks with two and block assists, two.

Conway led Aquinas in kills with 10. Danielle Dolan was first in assists with 23 and digs, 12. Shayna Nickelatti had a teamhigh two solo blocks.


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