Even after playing a dozen matches, there’s just something different about being in front of a home crowd.
“There’s always an additional nervousness that comes with playing in front of your student fans…” said Waunakee’s Head Coach Anne Denkert. “You have to live through it and hope that they keep their nerves under control and play the game like we’ve played. We’re 10-2; we’ve played 12 matches, so it’s not like we haven’t played, but we surely haven’t played on home court.”
Playing in front of a raucous student section, the Waunakee volleyball team made the most of their first home match of the season, dispatching the Golden Beavers of Beaver Dam in straight sets – 25-14, 25-8, 25-20 – to earn a victory in their Badger North opener.
Beaver Dam 0
After a close start, Waunakee’s lead stood at just 6-4 early in the first set. Waunakee’s two-point lead quickly grew to a nine points after a 9-2 Warrior run, though, and Waunakee was firmly in control up 15-6.
The two teams traded points for much of the remainder of the set, but Waunakee’s substantial lead allowed them to take set number one 25-14.
Set number two began similarly for the Warriors; after nine points, Waunakee held just a one-point lead at 5-4. From there on, though, it was all Warriors. Waunakee closed the set on a 20-4 run – including four straight aces from Sam Miller – en route to a 25-8 victory to go up two sets to none over the Golden Beavers.
Beaver Dam put up a bit more of a fight in the game’s third set, gaining their first substantial lead all match. The Golden Beavers held an early 7-4 lead over the Warriors, but the lead didn’t last long. It took only three points for Waunakee to tie up the score at 7-7, and neither team could gain much momentum for the majority of the set.
With the third set winding down, the teams once again found themselves tied. With the score 18-18, Waunakee finally caught fire, going on a match-clinching 6-1 run. Up 24-19, Waunakee was within one point of a victory. Two serves later, the Warriors forced a Beaver Dam error to secure the final point and their first Badger North victory along with it.
“The biggest thing for us will be consistently keeping a higher serve percentage,” said Denkert. “We got them out of system so many times just on serve receives.”
Milla Malik led the Warriors in kills with 17, followed by Jocelyn Meinholz with 13. Malik also led the team in digs, recording 12 on the night. Leading Waunakee in assists and aces was Miller with 24 and four, respectively. Kaitlin Jordan and Chloe Larsen tied for tops on the team in blocks with three apiece.
Waunakee (11-2) will hope to keep their momentum going as they head to Kettle Moraine Lutheran on Saturday morning for another early-season tournament.