The top-seeded McFarland volleyball team swept second-seeded Monona Grove 25-23, 25-16, 25-19 to win Saturday’s WIAA Division 1 regional final held at McFarland High School.
The Spartans (10-2) drew the top seed for Tuesday, April 13’s sectional, which will be held in a single day at Kettle Moraine High School in Wales, facing fourth-seeded Mount Horeb in a 4 p.m. semifinal. A McFarland win would bring on a matchup with #3 Edgerton or #2 Janesville Craig at 7 p.m.
Junior outside hitters Hannah Rounds and Avery Pennekamp each notched 14 kills while sophomore middle hitter Gwen Crull tallied eight. Junior setter Maddy Fortune led the team in assists (33), digs (14) and aces (2). Senior outside hitter Nina Crull and senior middle hitter Katie Hildebrandt each had three total blocks.
For the Silver Eagles (4-8), senior outside hitter Anabelle Vesperman (7) and senior middle hitter Ana Brennan (6) led the team in kills.
Vesperman also posted a team-high 12 digs while junior setter Jada Braun registered 19 assists. Junior outside hitter Gabriela Rivera served two aces.
MG rallied past third-seeded Stoughton earlier on Saturday, claiming a 23-25, 23-25, 25-18, 25-17, 25-13 victory in the regional semifinals.
MG played McFarland tough in the first set, and McFarland coach Trish Fortune gave her opponents credit for their efforts on Saturday.
“They played loose during the first set and we played uptight and nervous for a bit. We missed more serves than normal during that set and just had to settle in and play with flow versus fearful,” she said.
Fortune said that MG’s serve receive was improved from the first time the two teams met, making things more difficult for the Spartans, especially in the 25-23 first set.
“That made it more difficult for our servers to get them out of system and for our hitters to find the floor without them getting touches on the ball,” Fortune said.
As McFarland moves on to sectionals, Fortune likes what she sees from her team’s attitude.
“Our loss to Whitewater still stings a bit, but it has made us a better team and the players are working hard to continue to improve in practice everyday. Losing means learning and we were able to refocus and make some adjustments to help the team as a whole,” Fortune said. “This group of girls have developed a ‘team first’ attitude and are willing to do what it takes to be successful. I really hope they understand that the entire team helps our success whether they are on the court playing or on the bench cheering. Everyone works hard in practice to make each other better and their attitudes have been wonderful. They are a great bunch of girls.
McFarland’s volleyball team breezed by visiting Turner 25-6, 25-8, 25-6 in its final Rock Valley Conference match on Tuesday, April 6.
Senior middle hitter Katie Hildebrandt and junior outside hitter Avery Pennekamp each had nine kills and two blocks to lead the Spartans (7-1 RVC).
Junior setter Maddy Fortune registered 29 assists, senior defensive specialist Alexcia Johnson served five aces and senior outside hitter Nina Crull totaled nine digs.
McFarland’s 7-1 Rock Valley Conference record was second-best in the conference. The Spartans’ only loss came to Whitewater on March 25. On Tuesday, Whitewater defeated Clinton 3-0 to wrap up an 8-0 league record.
Monona Grove 0
Monona Grove’s volleyball team fell to visiting Waunakee 25-12, 25-13, 25-13 in a nonconference home match on Thursday, April 8.
Senior middle hitter Ana Brennan had four kills and freshman middle hitter Brooklyn Tortorice notched three kills for the Silver Eagles (3-7).
Tortorice and junior setter Jada Braun each had two total blocks. Braun also had team-highs in assists (12) and digs (10) while junior defensive specialist Sophia Melde dug out eight shots.
Monona Grove 0
Milton swept the hosting Monona Grove volleyball team 25-18, 25-19, 28-26 in a Badger South match on Tuesday, April 6.
Senior middle hitter Ana Brennan (13) and freshman middle hitter Brooklyn Tortorice (10) led the Silver Eagles in kills.
Jada Braun, a junior setter, notched 37 assists while junior defensive specialist Sophia Melde and junior middle hitter Emersyn Lang each totaled 11 digs.