By Paul Lecker
MARSHFIELD – The Marshfield Columbus Catholic volleyball team has had its season end with playoff losses to Wausau Newman Catholic in each of the past three seasons.
TThe Dons will get chance No. 4 to try to knock off the powerhouse Cardinals on Saturday after they took care of Wisconsin Valley Lutheran 3-0 in a WIAA Division 4 regional semifinal on Thursday night at Columbus Catholic High School.
Columbus Catholic won 25-11, 25-19, 25-10, to advance to a D-4 regional final at Newman Catholic at 7 p.m. Saturday. Newman defeated the Dons in the sectional semifinals the past two seasons and in a regional final in 2015. Newman advanced to the regional final with a 3-1 win over Loyal on Thursday.
Columbus Catholic senior setter Brooke Neider had 33 assists and five service aces, Kenzie Hansen had a team-high 13 kills, and freshman Dorci Walker had an impressive 10 kills for the Dons.
Columbus had two more seniors step up as well. Maren Seefluth added 15 digs, nine kills and four aces, and Kate Turchi had 11 digs and three aces for the Dons.
“We have a great squad,” Columbus Catholic coach Kat Egle said, adding that a couple of players have been out with illness and they are hoping to get back to full health quickly. “They work together so well. Practices are a blast, they’re pushing one another. Sometimes they get mad at us because we’re making them push harder, but they get better with that.”
Briana Post served five pints in a row following a sideout to break open the first set, moving the score to 19-6.
Kills by Jessica Jakopin and Hansen, and an error from Wisconsin Valley Lutheran ended the game at 25-11.
The second set was a struggle for the Dons, who had numerous service errors.
The set was tied 14-14 before Columbus finally got things back to normal. A Hansen kill earned a sideout, and gave the Dons the lead for good, then Seefluth served five-straight points to stretch the lead to 20-14.
A kill by Turchi ended the game 25-19.
The third set was a breeze for the Dons, who turned a 4-2 deficit into a 15-4 lead. Again Hansen earned a sideout with a kill and had three more in the 13-0 rally.
Seefluth also had three kills and Turchi had back-to-back service aces as Columbus took control.
“We were struggling with our serving and during a timeout we kind of talked about it to see what was going on,” Egle said. “They were like, ‘Yes, I think we’re serving a little too fast, take our time, slow it down.’ I think we brought that back in Game 3. I just think they were so excited to be out here, they last home game, so I think that’s what happened.”
After a sideout on another service error ended the run, the Dons quickly got the serve back and ripped off five more points in a row on the serve of Seefluth. She had two aces and Walker had two kills to make it 21-5.
An ace by Neider and a kill by Turchi ended the match as the Dons won the third set 25-10.
With Newman next, Egle said she wants the Dons to be on the top of their game.
“We played them (Newman) early in the season at a tournament and they are always very good. They’re very scrappy and run a fast offense similar to ours,” Egle said. “We’re not just looking for a win, but to play our best on Saturday. I want the girls to end their season, if it’s Saturday, or next week (in the sectional), or hopefully at the Resch Center (site of the state tournament), I want them to know that they gave it their all.”
Paul Lecker is publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com and a contributor to focusonmarshfield.com.