By Murray Gleffe
SUAMICO – Cadence Rusch had double-digit kills and several solo blocks in leading No. 7 Bay Port over No. 10 Pulaski (25-12, 19-25, 25-20, 25-19) in a girls’ Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletics Association Division 1 regional semifinal volleyball game Oct. 21 at Bay Port High School.
“Our energy was similar to the Green Bay Preble victory where we won in five sets,” Bay Port Head Coach Kris Pulka-Schuh said. “Cadence (Rusch) was on fire tonight. She dominated from the right side. The rest of the team did a tremendous job serving aggressively. We had a small letdown in the second set, but the rest of the match was fairly clean.”
The Pirates built a 5-2 lead in the opening set after the Red Raiders were called for net interference.
Bay Port extended its cushion to 16-7 with Rusch, Josie Hoffman and Ellie McDermid showcasing their skills from the front and middle lines.
The Pirates kept pushing the margin out and eventually captured the first set by 13 points.
Pulaski quickly took command of set No. 2.
Mallory Walton put down some hard kills, and Olivia Pozza and Jocelin Feutz got up for blocks against taller Bay Port to eventually take a 13-8 lead.
The home team narrowed the gap to 17-15, but the Red Raiders scored 8 of the final 12 points to even the match at one set apiece.
“(Pulaski) didn’t make many errors in the second set,” Pulka-Schuh said. “We had some lapses in concentration, and they took full advantage.”
In set three, Bay Port took an early lead, only to see Pulaski return the favor.
However, at 16 apiece, The Pirates got an ace from Izzy Grace and a kill from Rusch which found the right half of the floor to give Bay Port the margin it needed to capture the pivotal third set.
“We knew Pulaski had some shorter blockers,” Pulka-Schuh said. “Part of our game plan was to set our right side. If they cheated that way, then our left-side hitters got into the action. Josie (Hoffman) came up with some clutch plays with great composure and purpose. She’s come through for us at the end of the season when it matters most.”
With the match within their grasp, the Pirates grabbed leads of 4-2, 10-5 and 16-10 in set No. 4.
A bit later, Hoffman put the exclamation mark on a win with a resounding kill to end the game.
Bay Port next travels to Kimberly High School Saturday, Oct. 23, to take on the No. 2-seeded Papermakers in a WIAA regional final game.
“It’s going to take the same approach and attitude we had playing Manitowoc earlier in the season to beat Kimberly,” Pulka-Schuh said. “Nobody expects us to beat them. We have nothing to lose. We’ll go for it on everything. We need to be ready to move on defense and bring our best game.”