A week after struggling in Milwaukee, the Waunakee volleyball team put on a show in their return trip this past weekend.
At the LaPorte Sprawl Qualifier on Friday and Saturday, the Warriors went 6-0 – after beating Portage on Thursday – to win the tournament.
“We’re playing better as a unit,” said Waunakee’s Head Coach Anne Denkert. “People are stepping up and finding ways to produce when they weren’t producing a few weeks ago.”
Portage was no match for Waunakee on Thursday night. The closest set of the night was the third, which Waunakee won 25-14 to wrap up a quick victory in straight sets.
Waunakee took the first set 25-12 and the second 25-8 in the win, improving their Badger North record to an unblemished 5-0 on the year.
Hayley Krysinski led the team in both aces with four and digs with 13, while Chloe Larsen was best in blocks with three. Milla Malik recorded 13 kills to lead the team, followed by Jocelyn Meinholz with nine. Sam Miller was tops in assists, recording 20 on the night.
The Warriors then had a quick turnaround, playing in Milwaukee the very next day.
LaPorte Sprawl Qualifer
On Friday night, Waunakee breezed through their first two matches.
Neither Fond du Lac nor Sheboygan North were able to come close to taking a set against the Warriors in their first day of play. Waunakee defeated the Cardinals 25-12, 25-17 and the Golden Raiders 25-18, 25-17 to advance onto Saturday.
When the Warriors returned to Milwaukee Saturday morning, they were greeted with tougher competition than the night before. After convincingly winning their first set against Beaver Dam 25-15, Waunakee dropped a close second set 22-25. In the third, Waunakee regained their momentum and put away the Golden Beavers, winning 15-12.
“People started playing smarter, not harder…” added Denkert. “In the big scheme of things, there are things that are clicking and starting to happen that we’ve been working on.”
The Warriors’ second match of the day followed a similar script. After the Warriors took the first set against Hartford Union 25-17, the Orioles responded by winning the second 25-20. Once again, Waunakee took care of business in the third set, winning another 15-12 set.
After a less stressful two-set win over Franklin, the Warriors advanced to play Oshkosh West in the championship match.
For the first time all tournament, Waunakee dropped their opening set, losing a tight 25-22 battle. The Warriors rebounded, decisively taking the second set 25-12 to force a final third set. Once there, Waunakee kept it up, again winning by a score of 15-12 to take first place in the tournament.
“This gets us into the Sprawl next year, which is huge,” added Denkert.
For the tournament, Malik led the team in kills with 61, followed by Larsen with 32 and Meinholz with 30. Malik also recorded nine aces, while Miller added eight and Meinholz had six. Miller was tops on the team with 232 assists, followed by Caitlyn Lynch with 135. Leading the team in blocks was Robyn Ryan with 11 solo and one assisted, and Krysinski was best on the team with 80 digs.
The Warriors will get to catch their breath after a busy couple of weeks.
“We played Thursday, Friday, Saturday two weeks in a row…” Denkert said. “Seven [games] in three days. That’s a lot of volleyball; it’s a lot to ask to play at a high level.”
Waunakee (26-6, 5-0 Badger North) returned to conference play on Tuesday, when they traveled to Sauk Prairie, the results of which were not available for this week’s edition.
Ranked just outside the top-10 in Division 1 by the WVCA, the Warriors next play on Thursday, when they’ll host Baraboo. Start time at the Waunakee High School Field House is scheduled for 7 p.m.