By Rich Palzewic
GREEN BAY – Green Bay Southwest High School outside hitter Morgan Stewart made sure her team came out victorious on Oct. 3 in its Fox River Classic Conference (FRCC) match with De Pere.
Stewart recorded 27 kills and 12 digs in the Trojans three-game sweep (25-22, 25-15, 25-22) at Southwest High School.
In all three sets, the Redbirds (11-14 overall, 3-3 FRCC) jumped out to an early lead, only to see the Trojans (13-8, 5-1) come back strong to take the set.
“I feel I’ve gotten stronger as the season has gone along,” the junior Stewart said. “I’m stronger in my technique and with my body (from weight training). I’ve been working hard to follow through with my whole body and get as much as much power into the ball as I can.”
In Set 1, De Pere bolted out to a 13-10 lead, only to see Southwest win 12 of the next 16 points to seize control.
Stewart ended the set with a kill.
In the middle game, the Redbirds jumped out to a 12-10 lead before the Trojans dominated from there.
Southwest closed the set on a 15-3 surge to win going away.
Again, Stewart closed out the game with a kill.
In Set 3, De Pere had its best chance to get itself back in the match after grabbing a 16-10 advantage, but the Trojans responded with an 11-2 run to jump ahead 21-18.
From there, Southwest ended the match strong, winning its sixth match in its last seven tries.
“That’s been the story all year,” Southwest Coach Kristine Pulka-Schuh said. “We get down four or five points, but the girls don’t give up. I’m super proud of the girls.”
Pulka-Schuh said she didn’t want to call this season a rebuilding year, but Southwest lost a lot of graduating seniors from its 2022 roster.
“We lost six seniors and another one due to injury,” she said. “We lost seven of our 10 players. The way this team has come together has been awesome. It’s come along better than I anticipated.”
The Trojans coach also had high praise for Stewart.
“She can pretty much do it all – she’s one of our main passers, she back row attacks, serves well and is a vocal leader,” she said. “You have to put her in the conversation for the top player in the conference.”
Stewart, who said her goal is to play college volleyball and eventually in the Olympics, said her team has grown from the beginning of the season.
“Had we been behind like we were tonight early in the season, I don’t think we would have come back,” she said. “That shows how far we’ve come as a team.”
Alexia Hernandez led Southwest with 25 assists.