Wauwatosa East will be making a seventh straight trip to the WIAA boys volleyball state tournament following a 3-1 win over the Lancers in the WIAA sectional boys volleyball final at Brookfield Central.
The Red Raiders won the first two matches, 25-18, and 25-21, but the Lancers fought back to win the third game, 25-20. East then won a thriller, 25-23, to clinch the match.
The games were played with each team making big runs, as well as a healthy quotient of lift calls and unforced errors.
Pressing to get a point
Central led 16-9 in game four, but East went on a 7-0 run to tie the match. The Lancers took an 18-17 lead, but the Red Raiders scored seven unanswered points for a 24-18 lead. Central then rattled off five straight, with East hitting three of the points out of bounds, pressing to get that final point.
Following a timeout by coach John Simon, East returned a shot off a Lancers player out of bounds for the win.
"We had issues with a couple serve receives," Central coach Ken Nash said. "Unfortunately they got the runs at the right times. We had to battle back and it was a little too much space between us and them at the end there. I wish we had one more point, to have a little balance; a give and take. But we didn't make that."
Both crowds were great and both teams played with a lot of emotion.
"We tried to preach all year, keep that emotion high," Nash said. "Positive energy to make positive plays get positive outcomes. There was definitely a lot of those tonight."
Big runs for game win
In the third game, the Lancers had runs of 7-1 and 8-3 to close out the 25-20 win. East closed out the second game with a 12-3 run and had 14-2 run to win the first game.
"Coming off a good season, we won conference for the first time in 10 years," East senior Ben Mihelich said. "It means a lot to be able to beat Brookfield Central for the third time this season. They're a great team."
Simon and Nash then talked about the long runs.
"It's a game of momentum," he said. "We knew going in that they (Lancers) were very, very good at getting momentum and rolling out three, four points in a row. We had a concerted effort to not make errors."
Nash talked about the team's emotions.
"We didn't get down too much," he said. "When we did we played less, but when we got the emotion back, we started playing well again. That's how it goes with all sports."
Looking at the stat leaders for the Lancers, Jim Keuper had 11 kills, Andrew Dusing had 27 assists and three aces and Jeff Thurston led the club with nine digs.
Tosa East was led by Mihelich with 17 kills and eight digs, Ben Plaisted with 11 kills and 3.5 blocks and Morgan Griffin had nine kills and seven digs. Mitch Wagner had 30 assists and Mich Dillon had 2.5 blocks.
The Red Raiders will move on to the state tournament at Wisconsin Lutheran College on Nov. 9 and 10.
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