Showdowns are set:

Port Washington seeks its first North Shore Conference volleyball title; matches vs. West Bend West and Hartford loom large after Pirates earn big victory over Slinger
By 
MITCH MAERSCH
Ozaukee Press staff

The Port Washington High School volleyball team’s goal of winning the school’s first conference championship is alive and well after a 3-1 win over previously unbeaten Slinger at home on Sept. 20.

The Pirates got senior setter Sydney Hoeft back from injury and assistant coach Julie Gensrick back from illness, and it was all systems go for the complete Pirate team.

Port took a 2-0 lead and nearly swept the Owls before closing the match in four behind Elyse Karrels and Carolyn Lippe’s serving in the decisive set.

After a tie at 11 in the first set, Port took a 19-15 lead and won, 25-17.

Slinger battled back from a 17-12 deficit to tie the second set at 17, then at 19 and 20, 22 and 23. From there, Karrels, a middle blocker who stands 5 feet, 10 inches tall with arms about the same height, swatted the ball down for a kill, and a Slinger error finished the game.

“We knew it was going to be a run for our money. We knew we had to come out strong,” Hoeft said.

In the third set, the Owls held leads of 13-8, 18-12 and 21-14 before the Pirates battled back to a 21-20 deficit. Slinger pulled the set out, 25-22, but Port coach Paul Jungbauer said that late run was important.

“Even if you don’t pull a set out, you close that gap and build momentum going into the next one,” he said.

“After that Game 3, we had a new fire lit under our butts. We just wanted to win,” senior outside hitter Jennacy Wille said.

“In past years we’ve been dying for this game. Last year we competed really well with them. We were motivated. We wanted this game,” Lippe said.

In the fourth set, Lippe served six points to give Port a 7-1 lead, and Karrels served another six to balloon it to 14-1. The Owls couldn’t recover, and Port won, 25-12.

It was a different ending than when Port grabbed a 2-0 lead at Nicolet the week before. Without Hoeft, the Knights were able to come back and win, 3-2.

“Her senior leadership definitely was a big presence today. There’s a reason why Sydney Hoeft is a four-year starter,” Jungbauer said.

Hoeft had 48 assists. Wille had 17 kills and Karrels had 14. Rebecca Sepanic had eight, Lillian Merow had five and Lippe had four. Karrels had eight blocks and Sepanic had four.

Lippe had 20 digs, Wille had 13, Hoeft had 12 and Ari Canseco had eight.

Jungbauer also praised Merow, a 6-1 middle blocker who came out of a slump. She, Sepanic and Karrels wreaked havoc on Slinger’s offense all night while giving Hoeft more options on where to set.

Karrels described what it is like to score a point on a block.

“It’s exhilarating. Getting a kill is exciting, but getting a block just feels way more powerful because you feel like you have something on the other player,” she said.

For Slinger, Allie Beers had 15 kills and Ella Kohnen had 12. Emerson Swaney had 20 assists and Kohnen had 16. Maddie Gurlusky had 20 digs, and Beers had 18.

Port went on to sweep Homestead on the road last Thursday, 25-10, 25-22, 25-16.

Karrels had 10 kills, Wille had six and Lippe and Merow each had four.

Hoeft served five aces and had 22 assists.

Port took that momentum and won their Pirate Invite for the second straight season on Saturday.

The Pirates beat Campbellsport, 25-16, 25-9; Ozaukee, 25-16, 25-13; Sheboygan South, 25-13, 25-13; Greenfield, 25-21, 25-11; and Waterford, 20-25, 25-15, 25-17.

Port is 4-1 and in second place in the North Shore Conference. Port plays at West Bend West (3-2) on Thursday, Sept. 29, and in a tournament in Oostburg on Saturday, Oct. 1.

The Pirates host 5-0 Hartford on Tuesday, Oct. 4, in a match-up of the top NSC teams that could go a long way in determining the league champion.

Grafton takes silver again

For the second straight week and for the second straight season, Grafton finished second in two consecutive tournaments. First, it was the Black Hawk Invite two weeks ago. Last Saturday, it was the Badger Invitational at Lake Geneva.

The Black Hawks beat Elkhorn, 25-21, 25-16; Badger, 22-25, 25-19, 17-16; Williams Bay, 25-17, 25-13; and Jefferson, 25-18, 25-12. They lost to Fort Atkinson, which has a Division 1 setter, 25-18, 26-24, in the title match.

Coach Chad Tuszkiewicz said the experience will help his young team.

“The more that we can get them playing together outside of conference is going to be huge for the end of our season here,” he said.

He praised Leah Maciejewski for hitting .313 in the tournament, and middle blockers Kaitlin Mangan and Avery Smith.

Smith executed a clutch roll shot to an open spot on the floor for the 17th point to beat Badger. The tournament had games to 17 and teams didn’t need to win by two.

“She showed a lot of composure for someone in her first year on varsity,” Tuszkiewicz said.

The Hawks served 92% in the tourney and sided out at 58%. Both numbers impressed Tuszkiewicz.

Before that, the Hawks lost to West Bend East, 25-20, 25-18, 25-12, on Sept. 20 and beat Nicolet on the road, 21-25, 25-12, 25-13, 23-25, 15-12, on the road last Thursday.

Against Nicolet, Maciejewski had 11 kills, and Ella Johnston-Fodor and Mangan each had 10. Anna Holzer had nine. Grace Viesselmann had 21 digs and Kaitlin Kuecke had 16. Muecke had 41 assists.

Holzer hit .254 from the right side, and the Hawks served 17 aces to the Knights’ six. Isabella Pitre served four, and Viesselmann and Maciejewski each had three.

Grafton, 1-4 in the NSC, hosts Slinger on Thursday, Sept. 29, and plays at Homestead on Monday, Oct. 3.

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