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Ashwaubenon volleyball clinches first-ever Fox River Classic Conference Championship



ASHWAUBENON-The Ashwaubenon girls’ volleyball team made history Oct. 11.

For the first time since the Fox River Classic Conference was formed in 2007, the Jaguars won a conference championship, finishing at 8-1 and winning by a single game over Bay Port, Manitowoc  and Sheboygan North.

“It was one of the most fun years and finish to a conference that I’ve ever been a part of,” said Ashwaubenon player, Maddie Crowley. “To win it as we did in coming all the way back shows how tough this team is. Everyone contributed. It will be a lasting memory for me always.”

The journey started with a victory over Sheboygan South Sept. 6 and ended with a dramatic victory over Manitowoc last week.

Expectations were high coming into the season, but to think the Jaguars could overtake such powerhouses as Bay Port, Notre Dame and Sheboygan North, it might have been a stretch.

“To say we are excited is an understatement,” said  Ashwaubenon head coach, Megan Wierschke. “At the start of the season, we didn’t even talk about this possibility. The conference is tough, and we knew that it would be quite a feat to get through. The chances started being a topic of discussion a couple weeks ago as we got closer to it and the vision became more clear last week. Recalling back to the start of last week, we prepared for Sheboygan North and Manitowoc. We weren’t able to put our best foot forward against North and dropped the match in three sets. Coming into practice the next day, the team was in a good mental state after taking our first conference loss. They said that they weren’t dwelling on it and we were in preparations to play Manitowoc for the conference championship. We dropped the first two sets, as we weren’t executing where we needed to. Suddenly, in the third set,  we were losing 24-25 and the Ships had the serve for match point. We saw their crowd rise, waiting for the final point to become conference champs. However, we were able to pull it out and bring it to a fourth set and then a fifth. From there, we had the crowd and the energy to close out the match and win the title.”

As with any team, you need more than one or two players to achieve a winner.

Maddie Crowley and Maddie Koch brought the power game  with their hard-hitting kills; Allison Nitti, Anna Wendorf and Mabel Kirst with their blocking ability; Maria Scherer with her setting and multiple assists each game; Katie Benson, Paige Kruse and Paige Barry with their digs on serves; and Emilie Pludeman, Emily Lange and McKenna Engebose with their strategic serving.

“This team, more than any team in the recent past, has been more mentally stable,” said Wierschke. “We have been able to physically as well as mentally take care of teams and handle adverse situations with ease. They work hard and really pull together as a group. Not one player takes more credit than the next. They truly are an incredibly close bunch. You’ll hear them in matches, on the bench, practice and in film sessions helping each out because they care about one another and understand the meaning of team. The best part is, they are always the first to cheer and congratulate achievements as well.”

As with any small village, the community hears about it quickly.

In fact, the last time the volleyball team shared in a moment similar to this was a quarter of a century ago in 1993 when Ashwaubenon won the Bay Conference.

“Bringing this win to the program, school and community is huge,” Wierschke said.  “The support that has been shown this season has been outstanding. The atmosphere at the matches, especially against Manitowoc, was what really fueled the team to pull through. The student section storming the court after the final point was just the best. Even hearing the cheers as our float made it through the Homecoming parade just brought us all such joy. I’m so happy to bring the awareness of the sport of volleyball to the community and show them how tough but awesome it can be. Being able to mark this occasion with our nine seniors on senior night will truly make a memory forever.”

The road to the championship:

Sheboygan South (25-9, 25-13, 25-21)-Won, 3-0.

De Pere (25-13, 23-25, 25-22, 25-14)-Won, 3-1.

Bay Port (25-18, 22-25, 25-21, 25-22)-Won, 3-1.

Notre Dame (25-13, 23-25, 25-23, 22-25, 22-20)-Won, 3-2.

Green Bay Southwest (25-14, 29-27, 25-17)-Won, 3-0.

Pulaski (25-21, 25-20, 19-25, 25-13)-Won, 3-1.

Green Bay Preble (25-7, 24-26, 25-13, 19-25, 15-7)-Won, 3-2.

Sheboygan North (14-25, 19-25, 15-25)-Lost, 0-3.

Manitowoc (18-25, 17-25, 28-26, 25-19, 15-11)-Won, 3-2.

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