BY MURRAY GLEFFE
ASHWAUBENON-The Ashwaubenon Jaguars girls’ volleyball team defeated the Green Bay East Red Devils by three sets to one (25-20,25-15,22-25,25-10) in a WIAA Regional Semifinal held Thursday evening at Ashwaubenon High School. (Oct. 18)
For Ashwaubenon, Maria Scherer had 3 aces and 35 assists, Maddie Koch 21 kills and 17 digs, Maddie Crowley 14 kills, 3 aces and 10 digs, Allison Nitti 8 blocks and Paige Barry 13 digs.
For Green Bay East, Autumn Thao had 8 kills and 13 digs, Gretchen Farrell 23 assists and 9 digs and Rachael Malooly 18 digs.
The Red Devils jumped out to leads of 3-0 and 9-6 on the road before the Jaguars made their move in the opening set.
Barry set a ball to Koch who blasted the ball to the floor to cut into the margin.
Ashwaubenon then continued the momentum by winning the next five points to go up 12-9.
Later on, in the set, Nitti and Scherer both came up with key blocks on attempted kills by Malooly and Thao to give the Jaguars a 20-15 lead.
Each team split the last 10 points of the set and the Jaguars took the opener by five points.
The Jaguars played their best volleyball of the night the first part of set number two.
Crowley and Nitti each had two kills along with two aces by Scherer to give the Jaguars a convincing 9-1 lead to open.
After the Red Devils missed two serves into the net, Ashwaubenon extended the margin to 13-3.
Though Green Bay East battled back some, the Jaguars never trailed by fewer than seven points the rest of the set and eventually won it by double digits.
“We played solid volleyball in the opening two sets,” said Megan Wierschke, Ashwaubenon volleyball coach. “They had a hard time digging Koch’s kills, and I thought our height provided us with a lot of good blocks.”
As easy as the Jaguars coasted through the first two sets, they soon found out that the scrappy Red Devils weren’t going away quite yet.
After a back and forth set number three, Green Bay East started digging better and Ashwaubenon simply started making too many setting and service errors.
The Red Devils grabbed the lead at 15-14 midway through the set.
Despite the Jaguars tying it up three times down the stretch, Green Bay East took charge with Farrell assisting Thao on two kills in the back-right corner to give them a 20-17 lead.
The Jaguars pulled to within two points late, but Green Bay East captured the third set by three points after Schumacher slammed a kill into two Jaguars’ defenders.
“The girls got away from their game in the third set,” said Wierschke. “They (East) took us out of our rhythm a bit, but we also made a lot of mistakes to lose that set.”
The momentum was starting to slide away for the Jaguars.
They knew they had to put together a good fourth set or fear the dreaded fifth set in a home regional opener.
Despite losing the first point, the Jaguars got back to playing the type of volleyball that made them conference champions just one week ago.
Crowley, Koch, and Scherer made sure Ashwaubenon lived to fight another day.
Koch hit 4 kills within a 5-point span to give the Jaguars an early 6-5 lead.
Then, whether it was fatigue with going with a short rotation, the wheels simply fell off for Green Bay East.
The Jaguars ripped off the next eight points to take a 14-5 lead.
Anna Wendorf got into the action with a kill late in the contest, and Brenna Schlader recorded her first varsity kill.
The Jaguars went onto easily capture set number four by 15 points, and advance to the regional final Saturday evening where they will host the Patriots of Appleton East.
“We obviously will have to play a full game against East to become regional champs,” Wierschke said. “We lost a tight three setter at their place in an invite earlier in the season, so we know how they will play and what we need to focus on. We are fortunate to have gotten a top three seed and thus are able to host two games. It should be a great game at our place and I know the atmosphere will be good.”