Sun Prairie rallies from the brink to beat Appleton North
1 goal back in August, on the first day of practice, and taped it up on their locker room wall.
On Thursday evening, when their season was in dire danger of coming to a premature end, they remembered that piece of paper the reason for all their hard work. And they willed it into reality.
Rallying from two sets down, the Sun Prairie girls volleyball team stormed back to take three consecutive sets from Appleton North in their WIAA Division 1 state quarterfinal match at the Resch Center.
A narrow victory in the final set gave the Cardinals the first state tournament victory in school history, 23 25, 20 25, 25 18, 25 13, 15 13.
It also earned them a shot at the state's top ranked team, Menomonee Falls, in a semifinal match at 7 tonight. Menomonee Falls swept Sun Prairie last year in the Cardinals' only prior state appearance.
And that match is the exact goal that still hangs on a piece of paper in the Cardinals' locker room. Rantala, whose team improved to 43 5.
"After we lost that second set, we talked about it and said we didn't do all this work to have our season end today," Sun Prairie junior middle blocker Molly Livingston said. "And we just decided to give it everything we had."
In the first set, the Cardinals let an 18 13 lead slip away against a more aggressive Appleton North offense. Then, Sun Prairie played from behind throughout the entire second set before fading late.
But from that point forward, the Cardinals were faster, sharper, smarter and tougher. They helped out on defense, taking away North's trademark tip shot that had worked so well early on.
"We just had to remember why we were here," senior hitter Emily Chaussee said.
Leading the charge were the same players who have come up huge for the Cardinals all season.
Chaussee, a 5 foot 9 outside www.officialbullsauthentic.com/WOMENS-JOAKIM-NOAH-JERSEY.html hitter, delivered smashing spikes and well placed tip kills to finish with a match high 22 kills, along with 14 digs.
"Emily Derrick Rose S Jersey played amazing," Livingston said. "That's the most aggressive I've ever seen her play."
Chaussee admitted there was some truth to that statement.
"Yeah, I guess she's right," Chaussee said. "After that second set, we came together as a group and said if we were going to win the next three, everyone was going to have to play their best and play together."
The 6 3 Livingston came through with 19 kills, two service aces, four digs and four huge momentum Joakim Noah S Jersey shifting blocks. And senior libero Anna Brereton provided 29 digs and four service aces, fine tuning the Cardinals' offensive machine from the back row.
"We just funneled everything in the back through Anna, and she got it set up for us," Rantala said.
The third set turned during a four point service run by senior Kaitlyn Schmidt that gave the Cardinals a 15 10 lead. Soon it was 17 11, and after two huge kills from Livingston, Chaussee ended the set with an extra effort block kill.
Chaussee got things going in the fourth set, sparking a 10 7 lead, and a kill by senior Ava Lombardino was followed by four from Livingston that made it 19 12. Chaussee made it 22 13 with a tip kill, and Lombardino smashed one down the middle to tie the match.
Sun Prairie never trailed in the final set, taking an 8 5 lead on two Chaussee kills while Livingston rested for the stretch run.
Livingston returned for a kill to make it 13 8, and after North rallied to within 13 12, junior Tierney Lindner scored on a tip. Chaussee ended the match with a block kill.
Appleton North (30 16) got 11 kills and 18 digs from senior Kiera Miller, 11 kills and 16 digs from senior Mackenzie Greisch, and 10 kills from senior Halle Giaimo.
"We're so excited to be playing Menomonee Falls again," Chaussee said. "We remember what happened last year. Now's our chance."
Menomonee Falls 3, Milwaukee Pius www.officialbullsauthentic.com/WOMENS-DERRICK-ROSE-JERSEY.html XI 0
Senior Simone Lee delivered 21 kills and 13 digs, and senior Abby Becker had 16 kills and four service aces, to lead the Indians (44 4) to a 25 17, 25 17, 16 25, 25 17 victory over the Lady Popes (27 10). Pius, which was swept twice by the Falls during the regular season, got 15 kills from senior Rhiannon Ungerer.