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Columbus Catholic’s Dorci Walker puts down a kill during the second set of the Dons’ 3-0 win over Gilman on Thursday at Columbus Catholic High School. (Photo by Paul Lecker/For Zaleski Sports))

By Paul Lecker For Zaleski Sports

MARSHFIELD – The Marshfield Columbus Catholic and Gilman volleyball teams ended their Cloverbelt Conference East Division season tied for the championship, and Thursday’s match between the two showed why.

The Dons won three close sets to sweep previously unbeaten Gilman and stake claim to a share of the conference title.

Columbus Catholic won 25-23, 27-25, 25-20, to finish tied with Gilman for first place with a 6-1 record.

Sophomore hitter Dorci Walker led the way for the Dons. She had 17 kills, nine in the final set, and 25 digs in the win.

“She gets better because cares about her teammates so much,” Columbus Catholic coach Kat Egle said of Walker. “She’s not in it for herself, she’s in it to make her whole team better. That helps our whole team all the time.”

The lead changed hands six times in the opening set before the Dons surged to a 23-17 lead after two kills by Jessica Jakopin, and one each from Maria Taylor and Emmalee Jicinsky.

The Pirates cut it to 23-21 after a kill by Grace Grunseth, but two kills by Walker closed out the 25-23 win.

Gilman leaped out to a 6-0 lead in the second set before the Dons ripped off 11 of the next 14 points to go up 11-9.

The lead changed hands a few more times before the Dons won three of the final four points, the last one on a block by Jakopin, to win 27-25.

Columbus never trailed in the third set, but it was tight throughout until the Dons pulled away at the end.

Walker had two kills in a 4-0 run that put the Dons ahead 22-15. She had another kill and Jicinsky ended it with a kill, 25-20.

“Our defense was great tonight,” Egle said. “We’ve learned a lot. We’ve had a lot of illnesses and injuries, our starting middle hitter was sick tonight. It’s been like that the last seven weeks of the season. We’re working it through and we’re always together as a team.”

Jicinsky finished with nine kills and 11 digs, Meghan Kibbel had 33 assists, and Sydney Litwaitis had 16 digs for the Dons.

Columbus Catholic will next play in the Cloverbelt Crossover first-place match at Chippewa Falls McDonell on Oct. 17.