Pirates conquer volleyball region

Port beats Grafton in delayed match; upsets top-seed KML on the road
Ozaukee Press staff

The tears at the third consecutive regional final for the Port Washington High School volleyball team weren’t those of sadness.

Players were crying from shear joy after the No. 4-seeded Pirates topped the top-seed, Kettle Moraine Lutheran, on the road, 25-20, 22-25, 25-16, 25-22.

“It does not feel real. It does not feel real at all. We were here last year, and we went home in four,” senior Jennacy Wille said, referencing last year’s loss at Pewaukee.

“This is crazy,” senior Rebecca Sepanic said. “It’s like something you watch your varsity teams play when you’re younger and this is what you dream of. I’m beyond excited. I could not control my emotions.”

“This is why we play,” third-year coach Paul Jungbauer said. “The kids played their hearts out, saved their best match of the season for the right time. Everybody picked each other up, contributed in one way, shape or form.”

The Pirates came out strong, building a few small leads in the first set. After KML pulled to within one point at 15-14, Port went on a 10-6 run to finish the game. Middle hitter Elyse Karrels had kills for Port’s final two points.

“We talked about a fast start,” Jungbauer said, adding last year at Pewaukee Port “didn’t get off the bus” in losing the first set, 25-9.

KML came back to tie the match in a tight second set in which the Chargers had late leads of 19-28, 20-19 and 23-22 before winning the last two points.

The Pirates came out hot in the third set and never trailed.

In the fourth, no more than two points separated the teams before the end. All three of the Pirates’ North Shore Conference losses came in fifth sets, and they had no interest in going to a fifth in the playoffs.

Wille began a countdown around the 16-point mark.

“I was telling the team, like ‘OK, just nine more points, eight more points. We are not going to a fifth set. We were finishing it here. In nine points, we have a plaque. We won,’” she said.

The set was tied at 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21 before Port ended it on a 4-1 run. Junior Carolyn Lippe pounded the final kill with authority, and all the Pirates jumped on each other in a heap of happiness.

“It’s insane. Doesn’t feel real. I’ll be honest,” Lippe said.

“This is really cool. I think we knew we could do it, but it was a little underdog thing,” senior Sydney Hoeft said.

“We put everything out onto that floor. We knew it was win or go home, and we did not want to go home,” Karrels said.

“It’s amazing to know that Port sports are finally taking a leap forward. It’s nice to know we get to actually take something home for our school,” sophomore Lillian Merow said.

Karrels had 15 kills, Lippe had 11, Merow had seven and Wille and Sepanic each had six.

Hoeft had 46 assists, and she and Lippe each had 15 digs. Wille had 14 and Ari Canseco had 11.

Port had to overcome a tall Charger lineup that was headed by Emily Honzelka, who stands 6 feet, 3 inches tall, and is committed to play at Toledo University next year on a full scholarship, Jungbauer said.

“Elyse got a couple of blocks on her. Then we could work with that,” Wille said.

“It was on us instead of sitting back and hoping not to get hit in the face.”

 “It was definitely a challenge,” Karrels said. “We just had to switch up our shots.”

It’s Port’s first regional title in at least 15 years.

Port advanced to the regional final after beating Grafton at home on Friday, 25-15, 25-23, 23-25, 25-17.

The match was delayed by a day after Port police on Thursday morning were called and told the high school had an active shooter. That turned out to be a horrifying lie, but emergency services and evacuation plans kicked in. School was canceled, as were all extracurricular activities.

“Everyone was kind of feeling all sorts of things. No one’s head was really in the right spot yesterday,” Karrels said after the Grafton win.

“I was ready to play yesterday, so having to wait was a little jarring,” Wille said.

Jungbauer said he supported the response.

“I commend our administration on how everything was handled, start to finish. Protocols are put in place for reasons. You hope to never use them. Our district had a plan and the community had a plan. The community really stepped up in a big way yesterday,” Jungbauer said.

“If they don’t do what they do, it makes it a little tougher for our girls to snap out of it. They felt supported in a scary situation.”

The Black Hawks were ready to go on Thursday, but they understood the situation.

“I feel awful about what happened. I don’t think any of us were expecting them to want to play. That was not a fair expectation for us,” senior Leah Maciejewski said.

That Hawks hung in as long as they could, but the Pirates had too much offensive prowess.

Karrels had 17 kills, Lippe had 12, Wille had 10, Sepanic had six and Merow had five.

Hoeft had 51 assists. Lippe had 12 digs, Canseco had 11 and Wille and Cali Schultz each had 10.

For Grafton, Ella Johnston-Fodor had 16 kills, Avery Smith had eight and Maciejewski and senior Kaitlin Mangan each had seven.

Senior Grace Viesselmann had 20 digs, Maciejewski had 11, and Allison Viesselmann and Izzy Pitre each had 10.

It was the second time Port beat Grafton in four sets in eight days.

“I think they showed their youth in that first set, but then they showed their experience coming back in sets 2-3-4,” coach Chad Tuszkiewicz said. “That’s the way Grafton volleyball is. I was proud of the girls.”

“After losing to them last week, we had a lot of determination to come back and win today. Unfortunately it didn’t go that way,” Grace Viesselmann said.

It was the third straight season Port beat Grafton in the playoffs.

The Hawks finished 20-16 overall, 2-7 in the NSC. A few players shed some tears after the match, and Maciejewski was especially sad for a several minutes.

“I told myself at the beginning of the year all I want to do is leave the program better than I found it. I think that I’ve done that. Being able to just watch everybody grow and develop into their own player is something very special,” she said.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for coach Chad and the Grafton program. He’s definitely got them going in the right direction,” Jungbauer said.

Port plays at No. 2-seeded Pewaukee in a sectional semifinal on Thursday. The winner plays Saturday for a chance to go to state.

CG-Belgium goes 1-1 in postseason

No. 7-seeded Cedar Grove-Belgium beat No. 10-seeded Williams Bay, 25-16, 26-24, 25-21, at home on Oct. 18 before losing at No. 2-seeded Shoreland Lutheran, 25-12, 25-16, 25-16, last Thursday in the Division 3 playoffs.

Against Williams Bay, the Rockets hit .195, had 65 digs and 38 assists.

They hit .018 against Shoreland Lutheran with 32 digs and 19 assists.

“We were kind of out of our element in the first game,” coach Sharon Stellwagen said of the first set against Shoreland Lutheran.

The Rockets finished 23-11 overall and 2-4 in the Big East Conference Blue Division.

“It was such a fun season. It goes to the girls. We had a team that got along, they worked hard and they had great leadership,” Stellwagen said, referencing team captains Alexis Bahr, Payton Dodson and Tara Schmitz.

No. 14-seeded Ozaukee lost Oct. 18 at No. 3-seeded Prairie School, 25-4, 25-17, 25-10.

The Warriors finished 4-19 overall and 0-6 in the Big East Blue Division.



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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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Port Washington, WI 53074
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