By Paul Lecker For Zaleski Sports
MARSHFIELD – Marshfield volleyball coach Dawn Sadowska said she knew Wausau East would be a tough playoff matchup.
The Tigers split a pair of Wisconsin Valley Conference matches with East during the regular season, including a 3-2 loss at home.
On Thursday, East returned to Marshfield High School and beat the Tigers again, escaping with a 3-1 victory in a WIAA Division 1 regional semifinal. East won 25-21, 25-22, 13-25, 25-20.
The No. 10 seed Lumberjacks move on to a regional final at No. 2 Eau Claire North on Saturday. Marshfield’s season comes to an end.
“I knew this matchup was going to be rough,” Sadowska said. “That’s why I fought so hard to try to get the six (seed). This is really hard because I felt like we should be playing someone else tonight. But give credit to them (East). They kept swinging, they were aggressive and at times I felt that maybe we weren’t as much as we needed to.”
Marshfield led 9-8 in the first set after a block kill by Kaydee Johnson before East ripped off eight of the next nine points to take control.
Marshfield closed to within 22-19 before East was able to finish off the set on a block kill by Grace Stimac and a service error.
Taylor Pagel had seven of her team-high 17 kills in the first set for East.
Marshfield started the second set with a 5-0 run before East responded with nine points in a row and never trailed again. Stimac had three kills in the run for the Lumberjacks.
Marshfield again made a late run. A kill by Taylor Barwick helped the Tigers get to within two at 24-22 before Stimac ended the set with a block kill to give East a 2-0 lead.
“We were trying to force her (Pagel) more into the court,” Sadowska said. “Our block wasn’t getting to where it needed to go. Our serve-receive struggled big time. They’re a good serving team.”
With its season on the line, Marshfield dominated Game 3.
Kills by Brooklyn Boushack and Alani Carter helped the Tigers get out to a 5-1 lead.
After East tied it at 7-7 on a service ace by Pagel, Marshfield scored nine of the next 10 points to grab hold of the set.
Lindsey Steffen had five of her team-high 17 kills in the set, including four in a closing 9-5 run that ended the game with a 25-13 win.
East regrouped in the fourth set and never trailed. Two kills by Pagel and an ace by Makenzi Gale keyed a 6-0 run that gave the Lumberjacks a 17-10 lead.
Steffen had four kills in an 8-2 run for the Tigers to get to within 19-18 before East closed out the match. Two kills by Stimac and an ace by Pagel finished off the match.
“We had a good season,” Sadowska said. “We made so much progress from last season. We doubled our wins. They did so many good things. I just hope they can remember the season, not just tonight. To have a 6-0 run at the end (of the season) was incredible for them. It gave them a lot of confidence.”
Boushack added 11 kills, Barwick had 15 assists, Johnson had 28 digs, and Elise Uphoff added 19 digs for Marshfield.
Paul Lecker is publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com, a contributor to Zaleski Sports.