Mukwonago reaches first-ever sectional final
History has already been made for the Mukwonago girls volleyball program. The question now is just how much history.
The Indians will play in a WIAA sectional final for the first time in school history after host dismantling Germantown on Thursday in the semifinal, 25-22, 25-19, 25-20. The state’s top-ranked team, Menomonee Falls, awaits in the meeting at Watertown on Saturday.
Mukwonago found an answer to each of Germantown’s several runs, including a quirky escape in the final stretch of the third set, and won thanks to consistent back-row play and especially an active block.
“We do have some height and we’ve been working on (blocking) hard because our timing has been off for a while,” Mukwonago coach Mary Pocius said. “I was glad when we had that big run (at the start of the third set); we could hold them off (when they made theirs). We have one rotation that gets into a funk sometimes; we just have to get out of it and find a way.”
With libero Andrea Bauer at the service line, Mukwonago won 10 straight points to take an 11-2 lead in the third set. Germantown, however, pulled to within 16-13, then bounced back to within 20-17 after the Indians went on a spurt.
Senior setter Jordyn Koehn delivered the play of the night at that point, scurrying to make a lunging save on a rocket attack from Germantown middle blocker Beth Kuske. As the Warhawks began to celebrate what they thought was a kill to pull them within two points, the ball lofted to the back of Germantown’s court and fell harmlessly for a Mukwonago point. Seven points later, the match was over.
“It tends to happen a lot,” Koehn said of the Mukwonago tendency to permit runs by the opponent. “We kind of freak out a little bit, but usually we can pick it up then. That (dig) was so exciting.”
Koehn also handed out 20 assists in her half of the 6-2 system with fellow setter Brittany Michalski. Junior Laney Lovell cashed in a handful of those helpers and finished with a team-high 11 kills.
“We have T-shirts that say, ‘The time has come to make history,’” Lovell said. “We’ve really been practicing on closing (the block) a lot, running a lot of quick hits. … We’ve worked hard all season. This has been our goal.”
Julia Dolata led the team with four blocks, Kelly Murphy posted 12 digs, and Michalski gashed Germantown for three aces.
Germantown scored five straight points when Mukwonago had set point in the first set before an attack error allowed the Indians to close out the first set. Germantown went on another five-point run to pull within 20-18 in the second set before Mukwonago responded with five of the next six points.
Now comes Falls, a team that probably won’t allow for those types of hiccups. Mukwonago had a chance to watch Falls dispatch Oconomowoc in the other sectional semifinal earlier Thursday, 25-12, 25-18, 25-13.
“They are tremendous,” Pocius said. “We played them in our home tournament. (State Player of the Year candidate) Simone (Lee) was just Simone. She’s going to get her points and we have to do the best we can. They should come in knowing they really don’t have anything to lose. No one’s expecting us to beat them, so we can come in relatively loose. They’re still going to be exciting as heck because this is their first opportunity to ever get to the state tournament.”
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