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Newman Catholic's Lauren Shields sends home a kill to finish off the Cardinals' 3-2 win over Marshfield Columbus Catholic in a WIAA Division 4 girls volleyball sectional semifinal Thursday night at Columbus Catholic High School. (Photo by Paul Lecker/For Zaleski Sports)

By Paul Lecker

For Zaleski Sports

MARSHFIELD – The Marshfield Columbus Catholic and Wausau Newman Catholic girls volleyball teams have met in the WIAA playoffs in each of the past four seasons, with Newman winning each time on its way to the state tournament.

On Thursday, the two teams met again, this time in the WIAA Division 4 sectional semifinals, and for the first time in the past five seasons, the match was at Columbus Catholic High School.

Unfortunately for the Dons, the result was the same.

Columbus battled back from a 2-1 deficit to force a fifth-and-deciding set, but the Cardinals were able to eke out a 3-2 win, ending the Dons’ season again.

Newman Catholic won 23-25, 25-17, 25-20, 15-25, 15-6, to move on to a Division 4 sectional final against Wabeno/Laona in Suring at 7 p.m. Saturday. The winner moves on to the 2019 WIAA State Girls Volleyball Tournament in Green Bay on Nov. 7-9. Newman will be shooting for its ninth-straight state appearance.

"I'm proud with how my girls played tonight," Columbus Catholic coach Kat Egle said. "Dorci Walker played on a sprained ankle and the other players stepped it up. We played through some tough calls during the match and stayed strong as a team. We are going to miss the seniors and it was a blessing to have coach them. This was a special team."

The first set was tight, foreshadowing what a close match it would be.

The lead changed hands six times, with neither team leading by more than four. Columbus Catholic pulled ahead for good after kills by Dorci Walker and Maria Taylor, which made it 22-1.

Columbus Catholic’s Meghan Kibbel makes a diving save during the opening set of the Dons’ WIAA Division 4 girls volleyball sectional semifinal against Wausau Newman Catholic on Thursday at Columbus Catholic High School. Newman won, 3-2. (Photo by Paul Lecker/For Zaleski Sports)

The teams alternated points until the Dons finished off the 25-23 win with a kill by Jessica Jakopin, who finished with 11 kills in the match.

Columbus looked like it might take control of the match in the second set, rolling out to a 10-3 lead as Walker, Jakopin and Taylor had kills.

Newman Catholic rallied however, and the set made a big turn when Lauren Shields took over serving for the Cardinals.

A sideout, on a kill by Linnea Svennes, brought Newman to within 12-9 and Shields ripped off nine points, six coming from aces as the Dons couldn’t figure out a way to control the knuckling serve.

Columbus came as close as 19-16 after a block kill by Jakopin, before the Cardinals scored six of the final seven points to earn a 25-17 win.

Newman never trailed in the third set as Svennes and Shields each had four kills, and the Cardinals won 25-20.

With its season on the line, Columbus Catholic used a monster run to gain control of the fourth set.