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Jaguars edge Tritons in five-set thriller




That’s what the scoreboard read at the end of the Ashwaubenon Jaguars dramatic five set volleyball win over the Notre Dame Tritons 25-13, 23-25, 25-23, 22-25, 22-20 Tuesday evening at Ashwaubenon High School. (Sept. 25)

Maria Scherer led the Jaguars with 42 assists, 13 digs, and 8 kills.

Maddie Koch had 25 kills and Allison Nitti contributed 9 kills and 9 blocks.

Elizabeth Schaupp led the Tritons with 30 assists.

Brooklyn Onell had 11 kills and 4 aces, and Katherine Walch added 33 digs.

This clash of FRCC powerhouses was all Ashwaubenon early on.

The Jaguars jumped out to an early 9-1 lead in the opening set behind two aces by Maddie Crowley, miscalculated sets by the Tritons, and amazing blocks by Nitti.

“Allison really came to play today after being sick for a number of days,” said Megan Wierschke, Ashwaubenon volleyball coach. “She is a competitor, and really battled through adversity today.”

Later in the set, Notre Dame closed the gap to 16-11 after Ashwaubenon missed three consecutive kills.

The Jaguars, however, rebuilt their lead back up to eight points after Koch went ‘third floor’ on a kill.

Ashwaubenon took the opener by a dozen.

The Jaguars built an 11-5 lead midway through the second set and appeared to be in cruise control on their home floor.

That’s when the tide started to turn.

Tritons Head Coach Ben Wolf called a key timeout that seemed to spark the Notre Dame players back into the contest.

The Tritons won five of the next eight points, and methodically worked their way back.

The Jaguars then had four setting errors and three missed serves within a 10-point sequence that inexplicably put the Tritons on top 22-20.

A few points later, Notre Dame OH Sammy Opichka ripped a kill and the Tritons had evened the match up at a set apiece.

“We were in control of this match and we let it slip away in that second set,” Wierschke said. “I was disappointed with some of our execution on missed serves in general. We have to get better at playing a complete game against real solid opponents.”

Set three didn’t have the twists and turns that the first two sets offered up.

Instead, it was tightly contested between two teams that kept going back and forth with each other.

The Jaguars finally edged ahead with five kills from Koch late in the set. Each was set up majestically by Scherer who put the ball in prime position for the ball to be unleashed!

The Tritons closed the gap to one point down the stretch, but an out serve at 23-24 proved to be the difference in the end.

With a two to one set advantage, the Jaguars wanted to close the Tritons out in set number four and not let Notre Dame hang around on the road.

For Jaguars coaches, fans, and players that unfortunately didn’t occur.

The Tritons seized set number four late after Onell found the open floor on a number of kills.

Two sets all and one set up to 15 (or one thought) to decide the outcome of the match between the two schools separated by only a few miles.

The Tritons busted out of the gates with a 6-1 lead behind Jaguars miscues.

A quick time out was called by Wierschke to try and settle her team down.

At 8-5, Scherer did a reverse spin ‘no look’ backwards flip that hit the floor with a thud.

After Koch connected on an ace, the Jaguars had clawed back to even at eight apiece.

“I wanted to stop their momentum,” said Wierschke. “They went up by five points and wanted to calm our players down. I knew we could get back into it. We settled down and made some good sets, had some good digs, and got our kills back to where we started the game.”

With both student sections going crazy, both teams exchanged blows.

The Tritons had three match points at 14-13, 15-14, and 16-15 to close out the match and were turned away each time by the Jaguars.

The Jaguars themselves had four chances to close it out and were denied by the Tritons.

Fans were on the edge of their seats with every point, and players shaking with anticipation on what they needed to do to put their team over the top.

Finally, with the score reading Ashwaubenon 21, Notre Dame 20 the Jaguars closed the Tritons out after a setting miscue.

Pandemonium reigned out as the Jaguars’ students filtered onto the floor to celebrate with their team.

The Jaguars improve to 24-6 overall and 4-0 in conference play.

“I went back into the record books today and this is the first year we’ve beaten De Pere, Bay Port, and Notre Dame in the same year since 1973,” said Wierschke. “I’m so proud of these girls right now for their resilience in that final set. We have a lot of things we have to clean up (our movement and volleyball IQ) for our next opponent but we’re going to enjoy this one tonight.”

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