Girls spikers advance to sectional finals

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MTT News Desk's picture
Rob Reischel
Logan Welti and Middleton's girls volleyball team rallied past Waunakee in a sectional semifinal Thursday night./File photo



WAUNAKEE — The pattern was eerily familiar. And déjà vu was the last thing Middleton’s girls’ volleyball team wanted Thursday night.

Twelve months ago, the Cardinals went to Waunakee for a WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinal. That night, the host Warriors won Games 1, 4 and 5 and ended Middleton’s season with a 3-2 win.

On Halloween night, Middleton was back in the exact same gym at the exact same point in the playoffs — a sectional semifinal. And amazingly, the first four games followed an identical pattern as the 2012 match did.

“We said in the locker room before the fifth game, ‘This can not be like last year,’ ” Cardinals sophomore outside hitter Logan Welti said. “We all remember that really well … and we tried to flush it out of our heads.”

They did — although there were plenty of harried moments.

Waunakee jumped to a 9-5 lead in the decisive fifth game. But Middleton rallied back and notched a stunning 15-13 win and advanced to Saturday’s sectional final against Sun Prairie at MHS at 7 p.m.

Middleton finished with a 20-25, 25-18, 25-18, 17-25, 15-13 victory over the Warriors that it will remember for a long time.

“This is amazing,” Middleton senior outside hitter Mane Bobadilla said. “It’s everything we worked for.”

Cardinals coach Franco Marcos, who was celebrating a birthday, agreed.

“I really liked our resiliency,” Marcos said. “I thought we battled through adversity pretty well.

“The kids realized that whatever happened last year, that’s in the past. And we put the pedal to the metal.”

Boy, did they ever.

Waunakee used a 5-1 run midway through the fifth game and surged to a 9-5 lead.

“In a game to just 15, that’s a lot to come back from,” Marcos said.

But his Cardinals were game.

Welti had a kill to make it 9-6 and give Middleton a sideout. Then with Welti serving, Bobadilla had a pair of kills, reserve outside hitter Cole Jordee had a kill and Waunakee had a hitting error.

That capped a 5-0 Middleton run that gave the Cardinals a 10-9 lead.

“I won’t lie,” Bobadilla said. “It was starting to feel like last year again. But we didn’t let that happen.”

No they didn’t.

Waunakee actually regained a 12-11 lead. But the Warriors had another hitting error, Cardinals senior setter Bre Schlueter had an ace and Middleton junior middle blocker Audrey Hinshaw had a kill to give Middleton a 14-12 edge.

Waunakee pulled within 14-13 and regained the serve. But on the final point of the match, Middleton immediately ran a play for Bobadilla, who came from the left corner, brought her powerful right arm back as far as she could, and hammered home the winner of all winners.

Middleton 15, Waunakee 13.

Next stop: sectional finals.

“I hit it as hard as I could,” Bobadilla said. “It was probably my best one of the night.”

And what a night it was, as the teams went back and forth with a myriad of runs, surges and momentum swings.

Middleton led most of the way in the first game, but couldn’t close the deal. The Cardinals were clinging to a 20-19 advantage late, but Waunakee scored the final six points of the game and pulled away to a 25-20 win.

The Cardinals appeared in dire straights in Game 2. Waunakee used an early 6-0 run and grabbed a 12-6 lead.

But Middleton junior defensive specialist Morgan Schmitt keyed a 7-1 run with three straight aces. That helped the Cardinals pull even, 13-13.

“That was a big part of the match right there,” Marcos said. “Our serving was really important and Morgan did a great job.”

Waunakee led, 16-15, but the Cardinals finished the game on a stirring 10-2 burst. Both senior libero Leia Peterman and junior outside hitter Amber Karn had a pair of aces in that time, while Welti had two kills.

“We work really hard on serving in practice and throughout the year,” Welti said. “That really helped us get back into the match.”

Middleton continued its run, opening Game 3 with an 11-2 burst. Counting the end of the second game, that gave the Cardinals a 21-4 run overall.

Waunakee made things a little more interesting, pulling within six points on three occasions late. But the Cardinals held on for a 25-18 win.

“I thought those were two of our better games of the year,” Bobadilla said. “Everyone really pulled through.”

Waunakee refused to go away, though, cruising through Game 4 and grabbing a 9-5 lead in the fifth and final game.

“I have to admit, I was doubting it a little bit,” Welti said. “When we were down 9-5, that’s tough.”

But so are these Cardinals, who quieted the raucous Waunakee fans and left with their most impressive win of the year.

Bobadilla finished with 32 kills, while Welti had 25. Schlueter had 37 assists, while Peterman had 34 digs and three aces, and Schmitt added three aces.

“To come here and win in their house is huge,” Marcos said. “Players tend to tune out coaches and parents when they’re playing, then we were able to tune out the crowd, too.

“That’s not always easy, but I thought we did a great job of it. It’s a really big win.”


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