JUNEAU — For River Ridge players, watching Waterloo junior Brooke Mosher take practice swings might have been like staring into the barrel of a bazooka.
“Yeah, she did (look really good in warm-ups),” Waterloo junior Joslyn Wolff said.
As it turned out, Mosher wasn’t the only tiger on her team snapping at the cage.
Mosher did her usual amount of damage with 26 kills, 24 assists and 18 digs, while Wolff added 22 kills and 24 assists as Waterloo’s volleyball team beat River Ridge 25-19, 17-25, 25-14, 25-15 in a sectional championship match at Dodgeland High School on Saturday.
Waterloo (32-10, seeded No. 2) advanced to the WIAA State Girls Volleyball Tournament for the fourth time in the six seasons and will face La Crosse Aquinas (30-3, No. 3) in a Division 3 semifinal on Friday at 11:30 a.m. at the Resch Center in Green Bay.
“Brooke and Joslyn both had triple doubles (kills, digs, assists), which is pretty incredible, to have two players reach that in a single game,” Waterloo volleyball coach Christy Mosher said. “We have been talking how as a team we wanted to bring more feistiness to the court and Brooke took that to heart. She had some incredible hustle plays and big kills especially to start the third set after we dropped the second. Joslyn really showed her range of shots with big swings when she saw the opening and finesse shots when needed.
“This team is extremely deep and we don’t win the game without the hard work every single player has put in. We push each other hard and hold each other accountable and I think the toughness they have developed helped us refocus after the second and not look back.”
The Pirates missed five serves in the first set alone, which allowed River Ridge to hang around. But they broke a 14-14 tie by scoring nine of the next 12 points.
A key point came early in the run, when Mosher saved a ball out of bounds. Sophomore Abby Gier came up with a block to extend the rally and Wolff finished the point with a tip kill to put the Pirates up 16-14. Sophomore Kamden Fitzgerald followed that up with a four-point service run in which the Timberwolves failed to a set up a return on three consecutive plays. Mosher closed out the set with a kill and a serve which wasn’t returned.
River Ridge (23-1), a Division 4 state qualifier a season ago, rallied to tie the match in the second set. Strong serving managed to get the Pirates out of system. The Timberwolves took advantage behind 5-foot-8 senior Skyler White. Despite being undersized, White was a Swiss Army knife with 28 kills, 11 digs and three blocks. She spent the season ranked second in Division 3 for hitting percentage all season.
“She was so good,” coach Mosher said. “She was amazing. She would wind up and look around, and she would place it extremely well. They would feed the middle a lot, so defending a middle attack was kind of a high ball consistently throughout the match, something we haven’t really dealt with all season and they executed that extremely well. Credit to them on that.”
Waterloo dominated the final two sets, starting with a 9-0 run in the third. Mosher had four of her kills during that run. River Ridge countered with a five-point run, but the Pirates pushed the lead back to nine points and held it the rest of the way to take a 2-1 lead.
“I think they came out a lot stronger than they did in the first set and we weren’t really ready for it,” Brooke Mosher said. “We just really wanted it, so we picked each other up and we got it back.”
The Pirates opened the fourth set with a 7-1 run in which Mosher racked up four points. Wolff and freshman outside hitter Rylee Duessler made sure the Pirates kept the lead the rest of the way with effective swings from the outside.
Wolff played through an eye scratch suffered in the third set and had a monster game opposite Mosher.
“I loved it,” Wolff said. “The energy was great. The gym was packed. My team was behind me and I knew it. I loved playing tonight. The energy was just so high. I thoroughly enjoyed playing the game of volleyball tonight. We’re usually used to faster offenses on other teams. This game, they were slower sets, so timing our blocking was really tough for us, but we worked around it and we achieved what we wanted to achieve tonight.”
The Pirates were strong in several areas. Sophomore libero Michaela Riege had 24 digs and eight assists. Fitzgerald served four aces while Mosher served two. Senior middle Syndey Schonhoff had a career-high six blocks while Mosher added three and freshman outside Sophia Schneider added two.
“Give a shout out to Sydney,” coach Mosher said. “She really stepped up. We were trying to shade slightly to the right on White on the block and she got some good touches, as did Abbie Gier.”
River Ridge coach Dianne Langmeier would have much preferred to take her team back to the Resch Center in Division 4, but the Timberwolves accounted for themselves well with no losses heading into this match.
“We were in D4 and by 10 kids we got bumped up,” Langmeier said. “I would have liked to play Hillsboro or Iowa-Grant tonight, but, oh well. Things happen, but my girls are pretty proud. We’ve been ranked in the top ten and showed that we belonged there. We got a 3 seed and we won at Wisconsin Heights and at Brodhead to get here, so we feel like at least moved ourselves into the top eight to get here. We were happy with it. Waterloo has three or four awesome hitters. It wasn’t just Mosher. The libero was awesome. They could all set. They are a phenomenal team. I give them credit.”
Waterloo 3, Laconia 0
(25-12, 25-23, 25-17)
Brooke Mosher had 15 kills, 12 assists, seven digs and four aces to lead Waterloo’s way in the Division 3 sectional semifinal on Oct. 31 in a jam packed Waterloo gymnasium.
“What a great atmosphere for a high school volleyball game,” Christy Mosher said. “Tickets were sold out before the start and I really was impressed with the support both schools received from their hometowns tonight.”
Riege led the Pirates in digs (15), Duessler had a team-high seven aces, Wolff handed out 16 assists and Schonhoff had a pair of blocks.
RUSH TO THE RESCH
A $1,000 check will be awarded to the school that sells the most pre-sale tickets for the Division 1 quarterfinals.