Rice Lake up next in sectional final
By Greg Seubert
Only eight volleyball teams still have a chance to win a WIAA Division 2 state championship.
One of them is the Waupaca Comets.
The Comets kept their season alive Oct. 26 by heading to Mosinee and returning home with a three-game sectional semifinal sweep over the Indians.
Waupaca, a No. 4 seed in its bracket, will now face top-seeded Rice Lake at 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, at Merrill High School, with the winner advancing to state, set for Thursday to Saturday, Nov. 2-4, at the Resch Center in Green Bay.
The Comets opened the match with a 25-23 win, took a 2-0 lead with a 25-16 win and closed out the match with another 25-23 win over the third-seeded Indians.
Mosinee called a time out after falling behind 8-4 in the first game, but MaKayla Weisner then served up seven straight points to give the Indians a 12-8 lead.
The Comets trailed 18-14 before scoring six straight points to take a 20-18 lead and never trailed again, although Mosinee did tie the match up at 22-22.
Waupaca never trailed in the second set.
“If we come out strong in the first set and get the other team on its heels, it’s huge for momentum,” coach Liz Kneer said. “We knew they would want to come out and get that win in the third (game). We needed everything that we had to hold them off. Kudos to Mosinee, they did a great job.”
Waupaca trailed 13-9 and 17-12 in the third game before taking a 19-18 lead. Mosinee eventually went up 23-21 before Claire Bogard served up the final three points, with the final point coming on Rossi Wehmeyer’s block.
The win marked the first time the Comets had hit the volleyball court since they took three of four games from top-seeded Shawano Oct. 21 to win a regional championship.
“Shawano was a tough match in a different way,” Kneer said. “The atmosphere in here was totally different and (Mosinee) plays a totally different style of volleyball than Shawano. We had scouted them a lot, knew what we were going to be up against and made those adjustments from Saturday to today and we got it done.”
Waupaca’s competition in the North Eastern Conference helped prepare the Comets for the postseason, according to Kneer.
“Our conference play prepares us for this,” she said. “We play in such a tough conference. We see Oconto Falls, Freedom, FVL (Fox Valley Lutheran) and Luxemburg-Casco. Those games are like playoff games for us.”
All four of those teams have been eliminated from the tournament and only Waupaca and Fox Valley Lutheran won regional championships.
The Comets will face a Rice Lake team that has swept all three of its tournament opponents so far.
“We know how to fight, we know how to handle strong players,” Kneer said. “Honestly, that’s a gift to us, to be able to have those experiences throughout the season so that when we come into the playoffs, we’re ready to go. We’ll come in (Friday), view lots of film and the coaches will do our best to break it down.”
Kneer, in her second season as the Comets’ coach, said she is surprised by the team’s success.
“We knew we would have a good season, but what they did was come in as a team,” she said. “All I ask my players to do is check their ego at the door and they did that. They came in with a common goal to win and to play a game that they love.
“They play as a team regardless of it’s the six people on the floor or the eight people on the bench,” she said. “It takes all 14 of them to get the job done. They’ve shown up together in every single match and got it done together as a team. This is where it’s taken them.”