For the fourth time in five seasons, Lake Mills and Lakeside Lutheran met in the postseason.
The Warriors had the upper hand in each of those four prior meetings, including three regional final victories in the past four years. The L-Cats, determined to not let their season end at the hands of their archival once more, came out swinging, and buoyed by their home crowd, earned a hard-fought win to move on.
The third-seeded Lake Mills volleyball team beat sixth-seeded Lakeside Lutheran 27-25, 25-22, 25-22 in a WIAA Division 2 regional semifinal at LMHS on Thursday.
“Sydney Lewellin did a great job putting up consistent sets and moving the ball around,” Lake Mills volleyball coach Courtney Brock said. “Our offense did an awesome job being aggressive at the net. All of our defenders in the back row worked hard to keep the ball alive and get playable touches.
“The team’s energy and positivity was what we needed tonight. Lakeside is always a tough team and gave us some struggles throughout the match, but I think the girls did a good job of adjusting throughout.”
The opening set was a dandy as these two programs squared off for the third time in 42 days.
The L-Cats (28-7) rallied from an early 10-7 deficit thanks to six straight points with senior libero Olivia Karlen, who finished with six aces in the game, at the service line. Then, Lake Mills, which won both regular-season meetings in the series en route to the Capitol North title, got a kill by senior Abigail Toepfer to pull ahead by three.
Warrior senior Olivia Bartels had an ace a few points later, cutting the lead to 20-19. Lakeside senior Ella DeNoyer had a pair of kills that led to set points. On both occasions, the Warriors committed service errors to tie things up.
Lakeside had a hitting error and was unable to return a shot after a bump caromed off the ceiling as Lake Mills took the opening set.
“I was so proud of how my girls came out in the first set,” Lakeside Lutheran volleyball coach Jenny Krauklis said. “We played hard, we stuck to our game plan, and we had the energy in our favor. We were at game point twice in that first set and unfortunately had two key serving errors.
“Overall, we finished high with our kill percentage and hitting percentage, and we had a great blocking game. The girls were strong up at the net. Ella DeNoyer was swinging so well tonight with 11 kills and not a single error. Lily Schuetz was doing great reading the block and putting balls in open spots. Unfortunately, our serve receive wavered as the match went on and we weren’t able to use our hitters as much as we would have liked.
“Lake Mills was able to capitalize at some key moments, which helped them to pull out the win.”
The Warriors (27-13) had a brief three-point edge midway through the second set, which was nip and tuck throughout.
Seniors Katie Borchert (14 kills) and Ava Belling (eight kills) led the L-Cat offense. Borchert added nine digs and one-half block while Belling also finished with nine digs.
Senior setter Sydney Lewellin produced 33 assists and nine digs. Karlen also contributed a team-high 11 digs. Senior Baylei Crenshaw also had one-half block. Seniors Abigail Toepfer and Gabby Hack notched four kills apiece.
DeNoyer had 12 kills to lead Lakeside and Schuetz, a senior, added 11 kills, one ace. Bartels produced 38 assists, 13 digs and an ace. Junior Jenna Shadoski finished with six blocks and junior Marissa Duddeck and DeNoyer tallied two blocks each. Junior Cheyenne Johnson totaled 14 digs, one ace and senior Lydia Bilitz had 13 digs, one ace.
“My team has dealt with a lot this year,” Krauklis said. “I love how they dealt with adversity with grace and kindness. Character will always be more important to me than a win and these girls showed that all season long. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
The L-Cats play at second-seeded Edgewood in Saturday’s regional final.
LAKE MILLS 3, CLINTON 0
The third-seeded Lake Mills volleyball team defeated 14th-seeded Clinton 25-6, 25-12, 25-7 in a WIAA Division 2 regional quarterfinal at LMHS on Tuesday.
LAKESIDE LUTHERAN 3, DELAVAN-DARIEN 0
The sixth-seeded Lakeside Lutheran volleyball team swept 11th-seeded Delavan-Darien 25-13, 25-15, 25-11 in a WIAA Division 2 regional quarterfinal at LLHS on Tuesday.
Lily Schuetz led the Warriors (27-12 overall) with 11 kills and Ella DeNoyer added 10 kills, five aces. Marissa Duddeck produced three blocks and Grace Plitzuweit contributed 2.5 blocks. Cheyenne Johnson also notched five aces, Olivia Bartels registered 30 assists and Lydia Bilitz finished with 11 digs.
“The girls played with heart and joy tonight for their final home match,” Lakeside Lutheran volleyball coach Jenny Krauklis said. “It was great to see everyone contribute and for them to come together and play hard.
“Ella DeNoyer has such versatility to hit different sets at different tempos. She was serving hard and aggressively and even picked up some key digs in the back row tonight. Lily did a great job as well.
She has been working on serve receive and defense as our 6 rotation outside hitter and I thought she really looked strong in the back row tonight. It was an all-around great team effort. We are blessed and thankful to be able to continue playing.”