Sierra Lee makes a kill in a game held earlier this season for Westosha Central. On Thursday against Milton, Lee led the Falcons in digs and kill to help advance Westosha Central to Saturday’s sectional final (File Photo).

No. 3 Westosha sweeps No. 2 Milton Thursday

By Jason Arndt
Editor

Using steady pass distribution, courtesy of setter Kennedy Muff, third-seeded Westosha Central overcame No. 2 Milton’s blocking scheme to sweep the Red Hawks in Thursday’s WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinal in Stoughton.

The Falcons, who won 25-21, 26-24, 25-18, move to Saturday’s sectional title match at Elkhorn Area High School, where they face familiar opponent, top-seeded Burlington at 7 p.m.

Entering Thursday’s contest, meanwhile, Falcons’ coach Megan Awe admitted No. 2 Milton had an imposing front row which included 6-foot Chloe Buescher and 5-10 Ashley Didelot, both junior hitters.

“I knew they were really going to bring a big block,” she said. “They are a very talented blocking team.”

Muff, who accounted for 33 of the Falcons’ 36 assists, agreed with Awe, adding the Red Hawks posed a unique challenge.

“It was a really tough game, they brought a really big block at us that we really weren’t used to,” said Muff, 5-10 junior who also had six kills, two aces and a block.

To offset Milton’s block, Westosha Central planned to target its serve receive, and needed to show exceptional ball control, Awe said.

Overall, the Falcons produced an 89.3 percent serving percentage, only committing eight errors in 75 chances.

Additionally, Westosha Central had 11 service aces, with 5-6 junior outside hitter Sierra Lee pitching in a team-leading five.

Along with her five aces, Lee accumulated 14 kills and 23 digs, both of which led the Falcons’ squad.

Junior Laura Shoopman, who helped the Falcons with 17 digs and 11 kills, said the duo of Muff and Lee offered continuous encouragement in Thursday’s win.

“They both have brought so much energy, positivity, leadership and also a vocal presence,” said Shoopman, 6-2 outside hitter.

Tight victories
While the Falcons swept Milton, which carried a 30-10 record into Thursday’s match, the three sets were tightly contested.

In the first set, where the Falcons jumped to a 2-0 lead, it brought ties at 3, 6, 7, 9, 15, 17 and 18 before Westosha Central took control of the set.

Sparked by a Lee service ace, which gave the Falcons a 19-18 edge, Westosha Central then went on a 6-3 run to take the set, capped off by a junior Ella Kaebisch kill.

The following set brought 14 deadlocks, including one at 24-24, but eventually came away with a 26-24 win when Muff lobbed a no-look kill and Kaebisch ace sealed it.

Kaebisch, a 5-11 middle hitter, finished with seven kills, two aces and a block.

Then, in the third set, Westosha Central pulled ahead 3-0 with two Shoopman points and another from sophomore McKenna Hall.

The rest of the third, however, brought seven ties and two short-lived Milton leads, but the Falcons kept them within one point.

Shoopman expected the Red Hawks to challenge the Falcons.

“Going in, we knew they were a good solid team, we just decided we were going to play our hearts out and put it all on the court,” Shoopman said.

Milton received 12 kills from Buescher.

Red Hawks coach Wayne Hansen said it was a difficult match, noting the Falcons kept coming back up, even when Milton tried to take control.

“I thought we played tough, and both teams played great,” he said.

Defensively, along with Lee and Shoopman, the Falcons received 20 digs from junior Twila Dovas and another 10 from Hall.

Westosha Central improved to 24-19 after Thursday’s match.

Familiar foe
Saturday’s section final marks the fourth time Westosha Central and Burlington have gone head-to-head this year, with the Demons winning two of the first three meetings, starting with an Aug. 26 non conference clash at the Joust Tournament.

Burlington boasts a 30-10 overall record.

The Falcons responded in their Sept. 12 meeting at Burlington High School, where they swept the Demons in three games, but dropped the third showdown at the Oct. 14 Southern Lakes Conference tournament in Elkhorn.

Through eight sets, the teams are tied at four apiece.

Awe, who stressed team focus, looks forward to the meeting.

“We know what Burlington is going to do, we are not strangers,” she said. “We are going to really focus on what we can control on our end.”

 
 

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