Oconto's State Run Ends In Finals
Eying their first-ever state volleyball title, the greatest season in Oconto Blue Devil history came up one game short with a 4-game loss to defending champion Oostburg (43-4) Saturday at the Resch Center in Green Bay.
Champions of the Packerland Conference, Oconto knocked off Cuba City in 4 games to open up the Division 3 state meet before running into powerful Oostburg in the title clash. The split at state leaves Oconto with a superb 37-2 overall record and plenty of memories.
Im very proud of our girls. We just came up on the short end, Oconto coach Nancee Bucheger said.
Blue Devils Claim
DePouws Big Day
Down 1-4 in in the opening game of Fridays Division 3 semifinal match against Cuba City, it might have been easy for the Blue Devils to lose their composure and drop the first set of the day at the Resch Center.
Instead, the Blue Devils got on a roll and went on to a convincing four-game victory, highlighted by a sensational 39-kill showing from Sara DePouw, over the Cubans 28-26, 22-25, 25-16, 25-20.
The match took a turn in Ocontos direction once the score of the first game hit 8-8 thanks to a couple of well played points from Ocontos Carlee Behnke (five kills, one block, seven digs).
From there, DePouw began what would be an afternoon-long assault on the Cuba City squad, scoring the first of her big points early after one of her kill attempts was blocked by the Cubans front line. The ball immediately found itself back in DePouws area on the court and she wasted no time making a quick position adjustment and then putting it away with a powerful shot to keep the scoreboard even at eight apiece.
The Blue Devils took a 10-8 advantage shortly after, thanks to back-to-back aces from Danielle Schilawski (24 digs). The two teams stayed close on the scoreboard as DePouw and Cuba Citys Mikayla Kaiser traded big shots across the net. At 18-15 following a big block from Ocontos Behnke, the Blue Devils looked ready to walk away with the opener but Cuba City coach Keri Lawson called a timeout and her team came back to put a scare into Oconto by evening things up at 23-23 after a string of mishits and errors from the Blue Devils.
It got worse moments later when Cuba City took a one-point lead but another timeout, this time from Oconto coach Bucheger, was followed by a DePouw kill and then an ace from Hannah Miller (59 setups, 12 digs) got the Blue Devils out front again.
More back and forth would follow but it was Ocontos Laken James (20 kills, 24 digs) with two critical points late in the game to hand the opener to Oconto.
Game two brought more stiff competition for the Blue Devils as the Cuba City squad seemed to be playing a much smarter game than they had shown in the opener. Despite more of the same from DePouw in the way of devastating cross-court kill shots, the Cubans grabbed a commanding 10-18 lead over Oconto.
But the Blue Devils willed their way back into it, thanks largely to some of DePouws more highlight-reel worthy plays of the game. The senior attack specialist accounted for three-straight scores that got her team even with the opposition on the scoreboard at 21 all. But big plays from Kaiser, along with another untimely error from Oconto when they were down 24-22 eventually handed game two to Cuba City.
That second frame served its purpose as a wake up call for a determined Oconto team. The Blue Devils jumped out to a big lead of their own in the third, taking the 6-0 edge on a thunderous kill from DePouw that had absolutely no shot of being returned.
DePouw poured it on from there. She was killing shots, lofting shots softly to open court and generally outplaying the Cuba City front line as her team enjoyed leads of 12-5, 16-9 and 20-12. DePouws dominance would be the clear difference in the game as she decided five straight points to close the frame out at 25-16, a string of points from DePouw highlighted by a smartly placed kill shot to unguarded Cuban City floor space that got Oconto to a 24-15 lead before closing it out on another DePouw kill.
The fourth and last game of Fridays action for Oconto saw more of the same top flight play from DePouw as she steamed ahead to her 39 kills, setting a state tournament record for any division in a four-set match.
Cuba City scrapped its way to respectability early on and was hanging with the Blue Devils at 13-13 and even enjoyed a 15-13 lead but DePouw would again come up with a flurry of big plays to reclaim the upper hand before James hammered a kill through what looked like a very solid attempt at a block by Cuba Citys front line players. The point seemed to deflate the Cubans and Oconto cemented its Saturday matchup against Oostburg for the D3 title not long after with a big kill from James followed by a pair of even bigger kill shots from DePouw.
Blue Devils Fall To
Oostburg in D3 Final
Coach Buchegers Blue Devils got off to a solid start to take the opening game against defending Division 3 champion Oostburg with a score of 20-25 but the Flying Dutchmen rebounded to win the next three 25-18, 25-18, 25-23 and retain their Division 3 crown at the Resch Center Saturday.
Leading the way for the Blue Devils, who looked to be in control early as they enjoyed an eight point lead at one point in the opening set, was Sara DePouw, who followed up her record-setting kill performance on Friday with another 28 kills on Saturday to go along with 14 digs; Laken James had 17 kills and 13 digs while Hannah Miller, who also set a state tournament record in Division 3 four-set matches with 59 setups against Cuba City in the semifinals, tallied another 41 assists against Oostburg.
The Flying Dutchmen were led by Jo-Leigh VerVeldes 24 kills, 23 assists and 13 digs; Abby VanStelle had 17 kills, four assists and six digs while teammate Megan Danne had 21 assists to go along with a kill and six digs.
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