Brookfield East spikers win first state match
Sweep Kaukauna, face Marquette at noon Saturday
The only other time the Brookfield East boys volleyball team made it to the WIAA State Tournament in 2000, they were one and done. Not this time.
The Spartans (18-10) swept Kaukauna (30-10), 25-16, 25-19 and 25-23. Their reward? They get to face powerful Marquette (28-2) at noon on Saturday. The Hilltoppers swept Westosha Central (27-11) by scores of 25-11, 25-18 and 25-18 to advance to tomorrow's match.
The Spartans will be facing MUHS for the third time this season, losing 3-0 in the Middleton Invitational and 3-2 in their Greater Metro Conference match.
"This was definitely the most fun we've had all season," said 6-4 junior outside hitter Matt Klassen. "The intense level of this game was the same. They played very well as well."
Junior Graydon Schroeder argreed.
"It's an unbelievable experience. Just being here, all the fans here it's so special," he said. "We prepared the right way to be comfortable with the situation."
In the first set with the score tied, 8-8, the Spartans went on a 9-1 run to basically put the set away at 17-9 behind the efforts of Klaussen, Matt Szews and aces by Josh Schmirler and Klaussen.
The closest Kaukauna came was seven points, but the Ghosts couldn't get over the hump as East won, 25-16.
East won the second set, 25-19, going on a run again when the score was tied 9-9. First they ran off five straight points and kept the Ghosts at arm's length between four and six points.
But Kaukauna cut the lead to 23-19 before Mark Abuls and Szews each killed shots to win the set.
With Kaukauna facing elmination, the Ghosts took a 13-8 lead and 16-12 then East battled back.
The Spartans scored four in a row, when Kaukauna coach Tom Belling called time out to stem the tide with the score tied 16-16.
But East added two more points for a 6-0 run and an 18-16 lead and wouldn't let the Ghosts get the lead back. Schroeder sparked the comeback, before Abuls and Szews battled for a 23-19 lead.
To Kaukauna's credit they came within 24-23 before Szews kill shot gave the Spartans the set and the match.
"We were pretty crisp in games one and two," coach Tim Owen said. "In game three in was a role reversal. We gave up some free points. There were a couple things that went their way...
"To our guys is credit, 25 points is a long game. They went back to focus on what we do. Taking care of our level. If we play up to our level, it's up to the other team to match it. Tonight, they (Kaukauna) couldn't.
"One point at a time, focus on process and let that outcome stuff take care of itself."
Klassen talked about Owen's advice during his first timeout with East trialing early in the matchm as the Ghosts went on a run."
"He said we've been in this position before, you know what to do and go through the process," he said. "And we did."
Afterwards Owen talked about what he told his young team about their approach at the state tournament for the first time. He told his players about the scene in the movie 'Hoosiers' where they go out and measure the court and the basket and it was the same size as always.
"I told the guys the court is 900 square feet, it doesn't change," Owen said. "I also told them that there are certain experiences in life that are enjoyable, so come here and take some time to look up and enjoy it.
"We have a young team and for us, our focus is never outcome based. It's always process. If you focus this process, the venue might change, it's another round, you're playing a good team. But if you just focus on doing your job, whether it's the set, the pass or the swing, a lot of that outcome stuff takes care of itself.
"I thought we played loose. I did. The guys were confident and they just made plays."
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