By Murray Gleffe, Correspondent
ASHWAUBENON-The Jaguar volleyball team had to go the distance Thursday evening versus the West De Pere Phantoms. In the end, however, the Jaguars summoned enough energy to pull the match out 22-25, 25-17, 25-10, 21-25, 15-10 to advance to Saturday’s Regional Final at Hortonville.
The Jaguars got off to a slow start with crucial missed kills and serves into the net. The Phantoms seized the lead 18-17 in the opener and went on to capture the first set despite being the higher seed.
The players and coaching staff for the Jaguars knew if they were to live to see another day, they had to win set number two. Emily Lange opened up with a kill, and Maddie Koch followed suit two points later. The Jaguars took control and never let the Phantoms push ahead. The Jaguars evened the match up at one set apiece.
Set number three was a showcase of the Jaguar skill set from the opening point. Maria Scherer set great balls to Koch and Maddie Crowley, and Alyssa Bath continually dug hard hit balls out by the Phantoms to keep the possession alive. The Jaguars jumped out to an early five-point lead and then went up 12-4 after a Phantoms player hit a ball long. The lead kept extending upward and the Jaguars easily captured the set by fifteen points.
The pesky Phantoms would not go away. They came out and hung right with the Jaguars in set number four. Eight different lead changes occurred and at 20 all the Phantoms won the last five of six points to push the match to a final and decisive fifth set.
Both student sections ramped up as the coin toss was made by the umpire to decide who would open up serving for the chance to meet the Polar Bears over the weekend. At two points all, the Jaguars claimed a point on a kill that was called just long by the side judge. After a lengthy discussion, the call stuck. The Jaguars Megan Servais then had two key blocks in a row to put the team up 6-3. The Phantoms battled back to tie the score at 10-10. Nerves, and tension were building up on both sides. The Jaguars then showed why they were the #6 seed and better team on this night by winning the last five points of the match.
Jubilation set in as the players ran to the far side of the court to celebrate. The Jaguars will travel to take on the #3 seeded Polar Bears on Saturday for the right to advance to Sectionals!