UNFINISHED BUSINESS

The Waterloo volleyball team has some unfinished business as it heads to the Resch Center in Green Bay to play in the 2019 WIAA State Girls Volleyball Tournament this Friday and Saturday. The Pirates, who won Division 3 titles in 2014 and 2015, last appeared at state in 2017 and suffering a heartbreaking 3-2 loss in the semifinals. Second-seeded Waterloo (31-10) faces third-seed La Crosse Aquinas (30-3) at 11:30 a.m. Friday.

When Waterloo’s volleyball team takes to the Resch Center floor on Friday in Green Bay, juniors Brooke Mosher and Joslyn Wolff will be looking to settle some unfinished business.

Mosher and Wolff were part of the 2017 team which lost to Lake Country Lutheran in five sets in the Division 3 state semifinals.

“It was awesome (to play there),” Mosher said. “It was my birthday, so that was extra cool. Losing was kind of horrible, but it was a good time. I am so ready to kick some butt.”

So is Wolff.

“Yes, we’re going back and we’re going to finish our business, definitely,” Wolff said.

Waterloo (32-10) takes on La Crosse Aquinas (30-3) in one semifinal at 11:30 a.m. Howards Grove (42-4) takes on Fall Creek (40-3) in the other semifinal.

The Pirates lost setter and outside hitter Claire Mosher and libero Grace Meyer to graduation from that 2017 team and needed time to transition into the team they are now.

“We put a lot of time in this summer,” Wolff said. “I mean a lot. We did not only open gyms, but we hit the gym, too — lifted weights and everything. There’s just more of a spirit this year that we’re all family. We enjoy playing for each other.”

Mosher and Wolff have put up gaudy statistics playing off one another as setters and outside hitters. Mosher, a University of Illinois recruit, has 498 kills including a .398 hitting percentage to go with 110 aces, 56 total blocks, 245 digs and 408 assists. Wolff has 293 kills, 59 aces, 258 digs and 415 assists.

“Joslyn brings so much to the court,” Mosher said. “She not only brings energy, but she can hit the ball really hard and that means a lot for us.”

The feeling is mutual between the two lifelong teammates.

“I love involving everyone, especially Brooke,” Wolff said. “I love watching her soar through the air. I trust her with everything. We’ve been playing together since kindergarten. We’re pretty close.”

The rest of the starting rotation has gelled well around the two standouts.

Sophomore libero Michaela Riege has flourished in her second season leading the back row with 681 receptions, 505 digs, 67 aces and 90 assists.

“I feel the back court play of our libero, Michaela Riege, has improved tremendously from last season,” Waterloo volleyball coach Christy Mosher said.

Senior middle Sydney Schonhoff and sophomore middle Abby Gier have solidified the front court. Schonhoff ranks just behind Mosher in total blocks with 55, including a career-best six in the team’s four-set win over River Ridge in the sectional championship.

“Sydney played a great match (against River Ridge) and she’s really stepped up,” coach Mosher said. “Abby is new to the middle this season and she has stepped it up late in the season. She is super athletic and I thought she had some good touches on the ball.”

Sophomore Kamden Fitzgerald has served 53 aces on the season. Freshmen outside hitters Rylee Duessler (137 kills, 228 digs, 39 aces) and Sophia Schneider (80 kills, 166 digs, 38 aces) have made this a very difficult offense for opponents to defend against.

“The addition of our two freshmen on the pins, they did well under pressure (against River Ridge),” coach Mosher said. “They took some big swings when the other team was making a run, where they were really keying on Brooke and Joslyn and they came through with a big side out. The addition of that and our service line work from Kamden Fitzgerald was key. She played a huge role.”

Brooke Mosher credited the freshmen for their roles as well.

“They have learned a lot throughout the season,” she said. “They’ve learned how I am sometimes. I can be a little intimidating, but I think they’ve gotten used to me and they have learned a lot.

“This year, I think the only thing we’ve really been struggling with is kind of our serves. We sometimes have low percentages, but everything else, we have played well from the beginning and we’ve just kept going.”

Waterloo earned its No. 2 ranking in the Wisconsin Volleyball Coaches Association by scheduling tough tournaments against larger schools. The Pirates entered postseason play thoroughly tested and did not drop a set before beating River Ridge 3-1 on Saturday.

“We felt we were battle tested coming in,” coach Mosher said. “We hadn’t lost a match to a Division 3 team all season. Our losses, only one team we’ve lost to (Lake Country Lutheran) is out of the tournament thus far. I felt that that prepared us, even though we had a letdown in set two, I felt we would rebound just because of what we’ve been through up until now.”

This is the first season in which re-seeding has taken place at the state tournament. Top-ranked Howards Grove earned the No. 1 seed and second-ranked Waterloo earned the No. 2 seed. Third-ranked Fall Creek and fourth-ranked Aquinas flip-flopped, with Aquinas receiving the third seed and Fall Creek receiving the fourth seed.

The Aquinas Blugolds are led by senior outside Lexi Donarski (409 kills, 322 digs), senior middle Courtney Becker (180 kills, 109 total blocks), junior middle Natalie Warren (150 kills, 44 aces), senior right side Kayla Bahr (157 kills, 266 digs), junior libero Victoria Nolte (550 receptions, 416 digs, 42 aces) and senior setter Taylor Theusch (754 assists).

The other semifinal features two undersized teams which play great defense.

Howards Grove has served 432 aces and come up with over 1,600 digs between six players. The Tigers are led by 5-foot-8 sophomore outside hitter/defensive specialist Karissa Kaminski (357 kills), 5-foot-11 senior outside hitter Emily Bruckschen (274 kills, 60 aces), junior libero Mackenzie Holzwart (429 digs, 68 aces), freshman outside hitter Saige Damrow (152 kills, 77 aces), sophomore outside hitter/defensive specialist Myka Roethel (150 kills), junior middle Maddy Near (32 total blocks), sophomore setter Emma Baierl (759 assists) and junior setter Leah Parnitzke (503 assists).

Fall Creek has similar defensive numbers in terms of total digs. The Crickets are led by 6-foot sophomore middle Gianna Vollrath (398 kills, 101 total blocks), senior setter Catelyn Schulz (66 aces, 552 assists), 5-foot-10 junior middle Emma Ryan (76 total blocks), senior libero Abigail Bell (427 digs) and senior setter/right side Quinlyn Rubeck (386 assists).

Semifinal winners will play for the Division 3 championship on Saturday at 11:30 a.m.

“I feel like it’s almost a new season again,” coach Mosher said.

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