Westosha Central’s volleyball team confers after Saturday’s sweep against Burlington in the sectional final held in Elkhorn (Photo courtesy of Westosha Central)

By Jason Arndt

Despite a late push from Westosha Central, the Falcons could not overcome Abby Koenen and the top-seeded Burlington Demons, who came away with a three-game sweep in Saturday’s WIAA Division 1 sectional final at Elkhorn High School.

The Demons’ three-game sweep marks the second time in three seasons they denied Westosha Central a state berth, with the first coming in 2015, when the Demons edged the Falcons in Lake Geneva.

It’s Burlington fourth straight trip to the WIAA state tournament, which begins Thursday at the Resch Center in Green Bay.

According to Burlington coach Teri Leach, whose team defeated Westosha Central in three of four meetings this year, she recognized the Falcons’ weaknesses entering Saturday’s contest.

“We knew their tendencies and we prepared for what we wanted to do,” said Leach, whose team improved to 31-10. “I thought we did a great job in the first two sets of executing.”

Falcons coach Megan Awe said the Demons found a weakness in her squad’s serve-receive.

“Our serve-receive didn’t have that A game tonight and Burlington did a great job serving aggressively and keeping us out of system,” said Awe. “Honestly, hats off to Burlington, they had a great match tonight. I think the main thing for us was our serve-receive wasn’t strong, and if you don’t have a serve-receive, it is really hard to run an offense.”

Westosha Central setter Kennedy Muff, who was limited to 17 assists, believed the Falcons exhibited energy entering Saturday’s contest.

“I think that we came in really strong, motivated, and I think there were points where we got a little jittery,” Muff said. “We fought hard, and we fought together, we did the best we could.”

In the first two sets, the Demons took Westosha Central out of system, which led to Burlington wins of 25-18 and 25-11.

In the opening set, Koenen, who had a game-high 16 kills, produced the first point on a spike.

Overall, Koenen tabulated a .324 hitting percentage, better than the .026 she accrued in the Demons’ only loss to the Falcons earlier this season.

Although Westosha’s Laura Shoopman responded with a kill of her own, Westosha Central fell behind 3-1, after they committed back-to-back hitting errors.

Shoopman, who had a team-leading 13 kills, then cut the Demons’ lead to 3-2 on her second kill.

The Demons, however, went on an 8-4 run, capped off by a Koenen kill to extend the Burlington lead to 12-6.

Eventually, the Falcons were able to cut the Burlington edge to 21-17, courtesy of another Shoopman kill, the Demons later took the first set 25-18.

After the Demons cruised through the second set, where they started with a 6-1 lead, they faced a challenge in the third set.

In the third set, the Falcons and Demons came into nine deadlocks, with the last coming at 17-17.

While the Falcons came within one point at 20-19, when junior Sierra Lee pitched in a kill, the Demons were able to hold on for the victory at 25-21.

Lee finished with nine kills and had 10 digs.

Leach credited the Falcons’ resilience in the third set.

“They are a great team and a very competitive opponent,” she said. “They battled when they could.”

Burlington senior Brooklyn Vandehei, who finished with 11 digs, contributed both of her service aces in the final stretch.

Vandehei, who acknowledged the Demons grew accustomed to Westosha Central’s scheme, said her squad entered Saturday’s contest rejuvenated.

“We have played them three times already, and we knew we had to keep our energy high,” she said. “We knew where their weak spots were.”

Falcons’ sophomore McKenna Hall, who led the team with seven points, pitched in two service aces, including one to knot the third set 12-12.

Defensively, junior Twila Dovas led the Falcons with a game-high 18 digs.

Burlington countered Dovas with Sam Naber, who contributed a team-leading 16 digs followed by another 15 from Maddie Berezowitz.

Kaley Blake led Burlington with 30 assists.

Westosha Central concluded its season 24-21.


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