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Redbirds defeat Phantoms with stunning comeback

By Murray Gleffe

DE PERE — The De Pere volleyball team rallied from a set down to defeat West De Pere (21-25, 27-25, 25-21, 28-26) in a WIAA Division 1 regional semifinal game at De Pere High School Oct. 24.

“We knew we had to dig in and not give up any more points in the second set,” said De Pere head coach PJ Brocker III. “Jazz [Lohman] had some great serves during that stretch, and everybody built off that momentum moving forward to get us a great team victory.”

With an electric environment in place, the Phantoms and Redbirds exchanged blows in the opener.

At 13 all, West De Pere forged ahead with two aces by Mya Zielinski.

Later in the set, De Pere miscued on two serves to hand the Phantoms the first set.

In the second set, West De Pere turned a 3-2 advantage into a 12-2 lead after Elle Zimmerman had five aces and Emilie Planert two kill shots during the nine-point run.

The Redbirds called a timeout, and whatever was said, worked moving forward.

De Pere slowly crept back into the set with timely kills and aces by Lohman.

After a Brianna Geurts kill, the Redbirds evened the score at 17.

A little later, with the set tied at 25, De Pere scored after the Phantoms netted a kill and then won the set on an ace by Jolie Hnilicka to even the match.

“We got a lot smarter with our swings as the game wore on,” added Brocker III. “We mixed up our offense, and it seemed to work. The girls stepped up in a big way with the season on the line.”

De Pere jumped out to leads of 7-3 and 12-9 to capture the third set by four points behind the play of Kaity Coisman.

“Our resiliency showed up early,” said Coisman. “My teammates gave me some great looks in the third set to put down, and it carried into the final set.”

The fourth set had a little bit of everything.

The Phantoms jumped out to a 6-1 lead behind the play of senior Cambria Budinger.

The Redbirds then won 9 of the next 12 points to pull ahead with Avery Butrym being the main offensive weapon.

Neither team had more than a two-point advantage the rest of the set.

With the score deadlocked at 24, the Phantoms had two chances to force a fifth set, but each time, the Redbirds pulled back even.

At 26 all, De Pere’s Avery Moberg connected on an ace for a one-point lead.

The Redbirds finished the game off with a kill West De Pere could not return.

No. 8-seeded De Pere advanced to the regional finals to take on top-seeded Appleton North this Saturday.

“I’m really proud of the girls to pull this one out,” added Coisman. “We have to go in thinking we can win this against Appleton North and push forward with confidence.”

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