Tigers’ state title a true team effort

by Greg Ceilley
of The Review staff


THE HOWARDS GROVE girls volleyball team (right) celebrates winning the D-3 state championship Saturday and the gold ball trophy. Team members include (front row, left to right) Sam Yancy, Olivia Stauss, Emma Schmid, Brittany Schaller, Paige Splittgerber, Addi Gerber, Taylor Bubolz, (back row, l-r) coach Andrea Schmidt, coach Matt Nawa, Caity Schmid, Emily Bruckschen, Courtney Binversie, Tess Trueblood, Sierra Wildman, Katy Berg, Rayven Kalmerton, Makenzie Schlafke, coach Courtney Athorp, coach Kate Ewert and head coach Brett Damrow. – Photo by Terry Schaller THE HOWARDS GROVE girls volleyball team (right) celebrates winning the D-3 state championship Saturday and the gold ball trophy. Team members include (front row, left to right) Sam Yancy, Olivia Stauss, Emma Schmid, Brittany Schaller, Paige Splittgerber, Addi Gerber, Taylor Bubolz, (back row, l-r) coach Andrea Schmidt, coach Matt Nawa, Caity Schmid, Emily Bruckschen, Courtney Binversie, Tess Trueblood, Sierra Wildman, Katy Berg, Rayven Kalmerton, Makenzie Schlafke, coach Courtney Athorp, coach Kate Ewert and head coach Brett Damrow. – Photo by Terry Schaller HOWARDS GROVE – The strong commitment and team effort by the Howards Grove girls volleyball program played huge roles in the Tigers winning the Division 3 state championship on Saturday.

“It’s always been a goal of ours [to win a state title] and that’s what we worked for this year – to win that gold ball,” said senior libero Brittany Schaller.

“Most of us have been playing together since sixth grade and it [state championship] meant a lot to me. Especially getting to do it as best friends which made it a lot more sweeter.

“I’m really proud of everyone who was a part of this program. They all played a really crucial role,” said Schaller.

“I’m extremely proud of of my team. I’m going to miss playing with every single one of them. We played for each other,” said senior setter Taylor Bubolz.

“I wouldn’t have wanted the season to end any other way than to be on the biggest stage in high school volleyball and have that gold ball and knowing that no one can take that away from us.”

Tiger head coach Brett Damrow said it was a humbling experience for him when the team won the state championship.

“I truly want to thank the community, administration, parents, athletes and coaches, and especially the athletes for their commitment. You can’t win at this level without that commitment and support,” said Damrow.

“I’m happy for the athletes, parents, community, administration and coaches.

“I’m so proud of everyone. You have to earn it [state crown]. To have the program win the state championship is a humbling experience and I’ll cherish it forever.”

Damrow was proud of the way his team handled the pressure at the state tournament and all season.

“I’m proud of how they handled themselves and the way they competed and handled their emotions. We handled the pressure situations very well, not just this year but in past years,” said the coach.

Damrow said the Tigers’ state semifinal win over La Crosse Aquinas on Friday was probably the best match they played all year. HG had its best serving and passing percentages of the season in this match which the Tigers won 25-11, 25-21, 25-18.

In the state finals, HG swept Oshkosh Lourdes Academy 26- 24, 25-13, 25-21.

Damrow said the mental part was very important to the Tigers’ success this year.

“We really focus on mind over body, mind over circumstances and mind over fear. It’s all mental,” he said.

“We talk about what you can control – emotions and effort. They did a very good job of that which was a huge part of that [success].

“Whoever played better together and does the little things better will come out on top. Trusting your training is huge,” said Damrow.

“Over the year one of the things this group of athletes did was retain information. In times of stress and fear, they trusted their training and themselves.

“Every one of these 15 athletes had a big part in the state championship. We stress team effort in the program from day one. This was a 100-percent program win and team win,” he emphasized.

“All of the coaches fulfilled their roles extremely well to help us come out on top.

“The community support was amazing. The community support helped the athletes to play to their full potential,” said Damrow.

The Tigers had a huge crowd backing them at state which helped energize the team.


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