By Dan Truttschel~Sports Correspondent

It’s no secret that the annual Joust Tournament always provides a great test for some of the state’s best girls volleyball teams.

That’s why a top finish at the event can tell a lot about a team – and if that’s the case, it looks like Westosha Central will again be in good shape.

Central advanced to the silver bracket of the 24-team event and eventually came home with a solid sixth-place finish. Southern Lakes Conference foe and defending WIAA Division 1 state champion Burlington won the overall title.

Westosha coach Charlie Berg was pleased to see his team hang with some of the state’s best squads.

“It was a pretty good statement for where we are right now,” he said. “There’s so many teams who are just very good right now. The level of play and parity is just amazing. … It’s going to be a real competitive season, and you won’t be able to overlook any team you play.”

In the tournament’s first day, the Falcons swept Appleton Xavier 25-14, 25-18 and West Bend West 25-6, 25-12, before they fell in three sets to Divine Savior Holy Angels, 25-20, 22-25, 15-9.

DSHA lost in the Gold Bracket finals to Burlington Saturday.

Statistical leaders from the opening day were Danielle Rampart with 24 kils, 36 digs and five aces; Lauren Hickson with 10 kills and 43 assists; Maria Rasch with 15 kills and 10 blocks; Linda Flahive with seven kills and five blocks; and Hailie Hart and Sarah Horton with 26 digs each.

The Falcons opened the second day with a disappointing 25-16, 25-15 loss to East Troy in a match that Berg said was a carryover from the loss to DSHA the previous day.

“We didn’t respond very well there (in that match),” he said.

Central bounced back in strong fashion with a 25-19, 25-22 win over Kettle Moraine Lutheran, which sent it to the Silver Bracket.

In the first match, the Falcons swept Nicolet 25-12, 25-14 to move into the finals, where they fell 20-25, 25-18, 15-12 to Menomonee Falls.

“We got (back) up after being knocked down by East Troy and responded real well with Kettle Moraine,” Berg said. “We played exceptionally well against Nicolet and Menomonee Falls. I really can’t ask for a lot more with an early tournament like (this one).”

Leading the way Saturday were Rampart with 56 kills, Rasch with 30 kills; Hickson with 17 kills and 75 assists; and Ashley and Megan Jehlicka with a combined 35 kills.

Hart and Rampart also combined for 160 digs, while Rasch and Megan Ziesmann combined for 24 solo blocks.

Now that the Joust is done, it’s time to get back to work, Berg said.

“It’s early, and we have a lot of things to clean up,” he said. “We’re going to get better. A sign of our team over the years is that we have gotten a lot better. I’m sure this team is very capable of doing that. I’m pretty happy with where we are.”

Central opened Southern Lakes Conference action Thursday night at Union Grove. The Falcons host their home opener next Thursday, Sept. 6, against Burlington at 6:30 p.m.





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