Ask McFarland High School volleyball coach Trish Fortune about the key to winning the team’s WIAA Division 2 sectional final match Nov. 2 against Lakeside Lutheran, and she’ll use one word: momentum.
“Volleyball is such a game of momentum, and I don’t think there is any other game like it,” Fortune said after the Spartans defeated the Warriors 3-2 at East Troy. “This team has a way of digging deep within themselves and maintaining their mental toughness even when things aren’t going well. They have so much grit and resiliency.”
McFarland needed to bounce back from losses in two sets to capture the match in a fifth-set tiebreaker. The Spartans pocketed a trip to Green Bay by winning the final four points in a dazzling 15-11 victory that sent parents, players and student supporters into a state of frenzy.
The Spartans opened the match with a 28-26 win but fell apart in the second set as Lakeside won it 25-12. McFarland put itself in the driver’s seat for victory after winning the third set, 25-22, but Lakeside was not ready to give up as it forced the fifth set with a 25-16 fourth-set win.
Fortune said her team stayed composed and overcome its mistakes.
“The two sets we lost, we got beat bad,” Fortune said. “We couldn’t get into system and deliver a good ball, and they had it clicking on their side. We were able to move on from those sets and restart. It came down to a few crucial calls and unforced errors on Lakeside’s side.”
It also helped that McFarland had 14 total aces, four by senior Lizzy Fortune and three from Katie Hildebrandt.
“We served more aggressively down the stretch, and that was key,” Fortune said. “Lakeside Lutheran has great hitters, and they just weren’t able to get the ball where they wanted to put it, because we got them out of system with our serves.”
Lakeside outkilled McFarland 68-44, but sophomore Avery Pennekamp and Hildebrandt were dangerous when the ball was directed toward them. Pennekamp led the team with 16 kills and Hildebrandt had 12.
Erin Eggers had 32 digs, Lizzy Fortune contributed 16 digs, sophomore Maddy Fortune had 14, and senior Peyton Witt had 12. Lizzy Fortune dished out 38 assists.
McFarland plays Bloomer in the state semifinal game Friday, Nov. 8, at 2 p.m. at the Resch Center in Green Bay. Bloomer will enter the match with a 32-7 record.
The victory over Lakeside Lutheran was the Spartans 29th straight and improve their overall record to 36-3.
Coach Fortune is excited for her team’s chances at state.
“This team is very coachable and responds to the adjustments we make on the court very well,” she said. “They are all in and want to win no matter what it takes.”
Spartans 3, Platteville 1
Hildebrandt and Nina Crull both had 14 kills and Pennekamp came up with 12 as McFarland advanced in the tournament Oct. 31 with a win at No. 1 seeded Platteville.
McFarland won the first two sets 25-20 and 25-23 before Platteville recovered to win the third set, 25-16. Yet, the Spartans won the match after a 25-23 win in set four.
Witt served three of McFarland’s eight aces, and Eggers had 29 digs with Lizzy Fortune and Maddy Fortune each getting 15. Lizzy Fortune led the Spartans with 46 assists.