Volleyball pendulum swings Port Washington’s way

Pirates come back to nip Grafton in four sets
By 
MITCH MAERSCH
Ozaukee Press staff

A pumped-up Grafton High School volleyball team on senior night took an early shot at rival Port Washington last Thursday, but the Pirates battled from one set down to win the next three.

It was a classic that will be replayed in Port Washington on Thursday, Oct. 20, after both teams won their playoff openers Tuesday night.

Grafton took leads of 7-2, 18-13 and 22-18 before Port tied the game at 24. Grafton won the next two points to take the first set, 26-24.

The next set, won by Port, 25-23, featured eight ties, the latest at 22. The Pirates took an early lead and won the third set, 25-19, before closing the match in a tight fourth set, 28-26. It was tied at 17, 18, 19, 20, 24, 25 and 26 before the Pirates closed it out.

For the Pirates, the fourth set was vital because they are 0-3 in fifth sets in the North Shore Conference this season.

“I have a ton of respect for Grafton as a program and the fight that they put up tonight,” Port coach Paul Jungbauer said.

“I was very happy with how our team stuck together.”

Grafton coach Chad Tuszkiewicz said some new strategies threw Port off its game. Jungbauer and Port’s players agreed, also praising Grafton’s serving and blocking.

“I told the girls I was proud of them,” Tuszkiewicz said. “We played a fantastic match. It was a great match to watch and coach. It didn’t go our way but still a good match.”

Port’s Jennacy Wille, Elyse Karrels and Lillian Merow each had 11 kills, and Carolyn Lippe had 10. Sydney Hoeft had 45 assists. Lippe had 17 digs, Wille had 16 and Hoeft had 11.

Merow’s powerful kills — she stands 6 feet, 1-inch tall — came at key times and shifted momentum.

“She played like a senior today when she’s a sophomore,” Jungbauer said. “If she doesn’t step up, it could very easily be a 3-1 loss for us.”

For Grafton, Leah Maciejewski and Ella Johnston-Fodor each had 13 kills, Avery Smith had seven and Anna Holzer and Kaitlin Mangan each had six. Johnston-Fodor served five aces. Kaitlin Muecke had 27 assists and Alicia Melotik had 14. Grace Viesselmann had 11 digs, Maciejewski had nine, and Muecke, Johnston-Fodor and Allison Viesselmann each had eight.

It was the final home match for seniors Maciejewski, Grace Viesselmann, Melotik, Mangan and Amber Schilling.

“I’m going to get emotional talking about it. It’s like everything to me. I’ve played varsity since I was a sophomore. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve seen a lot. I’ve grown a lot,” Maciejewski said of the volleyball program.

“I have made some of my best friends through this program,” Viesselmann said. “It’s a lot of emotions, a lot of happiness. A lot of sadness, too, that I’m leaving a lot of fun people.”

“This program has meant family,” Mangan said. “It’s hard. Even though we’re not the best in conference, we always bring each other up. It’s really special to be part of something where you’re not necessarily on top but you’re in it together no matter what.”

Port held its senior night on Oct. 11 and beat Cedarburg, 25-15, 16-25, 25-17, 25-19. That was the last regular season home match for Wille, Hoeft and Rebecca Sepanic.

“This changed my life. I have found a new love for volleyball through this program. I have found a new family,” Wille said as her eyes welled up.

“I’m going to miss it a lot,” Hoeft said. “These people are everything.”

Sepanic, who makes up a formidable front row with Karrels and Merow, came in as a junior after moving from Texas. She said she likes the weather better up here.

“It was so important to me. Finally having a coach that appreciates us and takes our opinions and treats us like very civil human beings. It means a lot that Paul respects us, and we respect him,” she said.

Port, a No. 4 seed in the Division 2 tournament, beat No. 13 Milwaukee Madison on Tuesday, Oct. 11. No. 5 Grafton beat No. 12 Carmen Northwest.

Port hosts Grafton at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18. The winner likely plays at No. 1 Kettle Moraine Lutheran at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22.

CG-Belgium wins first playoff match

Cedar Grove-Belgium beat Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah, 25-16, 25-19, 25-11, in their final regular season match last Thursday.

Tara Schmitz had seven aces and a 10-point run. Olivia Bahr served eight straight points with one ace.

Kate Morrison hit .444 with nine kills. Bahr had six kills and hit .286. Payton Dodson had 25 assists and eight digs.

The No. 7 Rockets beat No. 10 Williams Bay at home on Tuesday, Oct. 18, in the first round of the Division 3 playoffs and play at No. 2 Shoreland Lutheran on Thursday, Oct. 20.

No. 14 Ozaukee lost at No. 3 the Prairie School on Tuesday, Oct. 18, in the Division 3 tournament.

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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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