BY RICH PALZEWIC
HORTONVILLE – The tears told the story – their season was over.
In a hard-fought, intense match with Hortonville, the Bay Port volleyball team couldn’t keep in a 3-1 loss Oct. 20 in the WIAA D1 regional finals at Hortonville High School.
After winning the first set 26-24, the Pirates dropped the next three in successive fashion, 21-25, 23-25 and 18-25.
“We battled really hard,” said Bay Port head coach Brendan Baier. “I was very impressed with how we played defensively. It’s difficult to watch your season end, but unless you’re winning state, it’s always on the losing end. Sometimes things just don’t go your way, but you have to bounce back from it.”
The Pirates came out firing in set one, jumping out to a 19-13 lead, only to see the Polar Bears come roaring back to take a 24-23 advantage. Facing a set point, Bay Port scored the last three points to win in exciting fashion.
After Hortonville won set two, the Pirates missed a golden opportunity to seize control of the match in set three.
With leads of 15-8 and 21-15, Bay Port couldn’t close out the set. The Polar Bears scored 10 of the last 12 points to steal the momentum back.
“Set three was definitely a key point in the match,” Baier said. “We started out awesome, but we made a few questionable decisions late in the game that we couldn’t afford to. It allowed Hortonville to capitalize.”
The loss ended the careers of seniors Olivia Schaut and Sidni Walgurski, two talented players that brought a lot of energy and passion to the program over the years.
Schaut had been sidelined the last couple of weeks due to a concussion and didn’t play in the regional finals.
Despite the defeat, the future looks bright for the Pirates with all-conference players Brooke Clement (first-team), Alyssa Koska (second team) and Raegan McIntrye (honorable mention) all returning.
Shelby Stelzer, another two-year varsity player, will also return after leading the team in digs and service receiving.
“Our future is bright,” said a smiling Baier. “We have a lot of talent coming back, but we will have to work hard and get better to take that next step up. I feel bad for Olivia having her season end like that – she didn’t get to finish what she started due to the injury.”
The Pirates have never gotten past the sectional semis or won a Fox River Classic Conference title, but those will certainly be goals next season.
Clement had 15 kills and 26 digs to lead Bay Port, while Koska added 11 kills and 19 digs. Stelzer had 36 digs and Raegan McIntyre recorded 31 assists.