Brookfield Central lost the first set against the Spartans on Saturday night at Brookfield East and then rallied to win three in a row and earn a WIAA Regional Championship.
The fifth-seeded Lancers won, 3-1 (22-25, 25-19, 25-19, 25-15), over the fourth-seeded Spartans.
Nicole Hinz (20 kills) and Ashley Rossman (36 digs, four aces) led the stats parade, followed by Shannon Kebisek (21 assists) and Molly Schindler and Abigail Strebig, each with 3.5 blocks.
Central steps up
On the Spartans side, Taylor Wilkerson (13 kills, 21 digs, three blocks), Petra Bryda (17 assists, five kills), Jessa Hansen (18 assists) and Erika Hansen (19 digs) were the stat leaders.
"Our players really stepped it up tonight and came to win," Central coach Scott Spiess said. "We talked all week in practice about having to win the serve/serve receive battle and I believe we did that.
"We also frustrated their hitters by blocking very well and playing very good defense behind the block. I thought our outside hitters (Aileen Herman hit .359 with 19 kills and 12 digs and Nicole Hinz had 20 kills with 14 digs) were outstanding.
"Shannon Kebisek (setter) had perhaps her best match of the season scoring a triple double with 12 kills, 21 assists and 16 digs. Marissa Zepecki continues to impress me with her decision making and ability to deliver hittable balls (18 assists).
"Ellery Nordling, Molly Schindler and Abigail Strebig worked their tails off at the net and created a number of huge momentum plays with their blocks. Ashley Rossman really helped to solidify our serve receive."
East coach Chris Polowy gave the Lancers their kudos.
"Brookfield Central was the better team tonight and I give them a lot of credit," he said. "They had a solid game plan coming in and were able to execute it."
After sweeping Central in matches during the regular season (4-0) Polowy knew the Spartans would have their work cut out for them.
"They had their chances to examine our team on many levels," he said. "With the quality of teams in the area, it's difficult to beat a team twice, nevertheless five straight times.
"Even though we won the opening set, I knew our team was struggling to get anything going offensively. Central's defense and serve receive were much improved since we last saw them; only one week prior."
A different team
This was a different Lancers team than the one East had faced previously.
"Their lack of ball control and our aggressive offense in the previous four matches was a large reason we came out on top," Polowy said. "However, tonight we were not able to find any holes in their block and their backcourt seemed to pick up every ball we put over.
"They also got great play and control out of their outside attackers, something that we had not seen in the prior matches."
Despite seeing his team's season end, Polowy looked at the big picture.
"Even though this was a tough loss for our team, I'm still very proud of what they accomplished this year," he said. "Two straight seasons with over 30 match wins is an amazing accomplishment. They showed time and time again that they can compete with the state's best. With their determination and work ethic I know they'll be poised to make a great run next season."
Central now hosts top-seeded Divine Savior Holy Angels at 6 p.m. today in the sectional semifinal.
Brookfield Central defeated Milwaukee South on Oct. 24 in the WIAA Division 1 regional semifinals.
The Lancers went 3-0 (25-5, 25-5, 25-2), holding South to 12 points in three sets.
Laura Hauser, (13 aces), Rossman (10 digs), Zepecki (nine assists) and Hinz (eight kills) were the stat leaders.
Brookfield East defeated Bradley Tech on Oct. 24, 3-0, holding their opponent to 13 points in three sets (25-3, 25-5, 25-5).
Stats leaders were Louise Kiekhofer (six kills), Shannon Bayne (10 aces) and Morgan Pink (nine assists, seven aces).
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