Shawano volleyball senior day spoiled by West De Pere

Hawks seniors thankful to get in some matches
Morgan Rode
Sports Editor

The Shawano Community High School volleyball team honored five seniors before a Bay Conference match with West De Pere on Tuesday in Shawano.

The Hawks played in their longest and most competitive match of the year, but they eventually fell short in five sets. The visiting Phantoms won by scores of 25-20, 20-25, 9-25, 25-21, 15-12.

Coming into the night, the longest match the Hawks had played this fall was three sets, with Shawano either sweeping its opponent or getting swept.

After a back-and-forth first set, West De Pere went on a 6-0 run to take a 19-13 advantage, and the visitors held on from there. Shawano bounced back in the second set, winning eight of the first 11 points. The Hawks eventually built a nine-point advantage, 18-9, before holding off a late West De Pere push.

The Hawks then dominated the third set to take the lead in the match. The set started with a 5-0 run for the hosts, with senior Freya Dickson serving. Senior Rachel Reed provided several attack kills, and junior Brooke Theis led a strong block game at the net before Dickson served a pair of aces to finish off the set.

The fourth set started the same way for the Hawks, with Dickson serving and leading the team to a 5-0 advantage. This time, the Phantoms had an answer for every Hawk surge. The teams traded short runs throughout, with the lead switching hands several times. Tied at 21, West De Pere scored four unanswered points to win the set and tie the match back up.

The fifth set was a culmination of the previous four sets, with the teams frequently trading momentum. After the Phantoms scored the first point, the Hawks claimed the next three. West De Pere soon tied the set at three, and the set was later tied at four, five, eight and nine before the Phantoms forced a Hawks’ timeout after going up 11-9.

West De Pere took the first two points out of the timeout before Dickson delivered a kill to bring Shawano within three. After the Phantoms moved to within a point of taking the set, Shawano won the next two points, the second coming on a block. But the late deficit was too much to overcome, as the visitors finished off the set and match with a kill the Hawks couldn’t handle.

“Volleyball is such a psychological, momentum game, and we were all over them and they were kind of rattled in those two sets (two and three),” said first-year Shawano coach Lew Worthington. “(West De Pere) started playing better, and we didn’t keep our foot on the accelerator. We kind of let up.”

The coach said serve receive is something the Hawks can improve upon, but he was pleased with its block game. “West De Pere has some really good outside hitters, good middle hitters — they didn’t hurt us. We hurt us.”

On its senior night — with Reed, Dickson, Abigail Tuma, Morgan Weinig and Avery Dreier honored — it was that group that led the Hawks on the floor.

Reed was the team’s top attacker on the night, finishing with 11 kills. She also contributed six digs, five blocks and three aces. Dickson chipped in five attack kills and led the team with five aces.

Theis led the team with eight total blocks. Junior Brianna Wright had six blocks, while Dreier have five. Junior Margo Gull tallied a team-leading seven digs, while junior Faith Passehl had a team-high 12 assists. Sophomore Alix Heath finished with nine assists and three aces.

While the loss was a disappointing end to the night, the senior group believes the match is one from which they can learn and improve.

“I was hoping it was going to be like last year’s game against West De Pere where we won in five (sets), but we we lost in five this time,” said Dickson. “I’m just hoping we can come back from this, learn from our mistakes and just keep going.”

The seniors were most thankful to be able to get in some matches this fall.

“We need to be very thankful of what we’re getting right now,” said Reed. “We need to be super thankful that we’re playing, that we get to have fans in the stands and two tickets. We just need to step back and realize that a lot of kids can’t get this. A lot of people are literally shooting for their shot around the state, trying to transfer to other schools because they can’t get a fall season.

“I’m blessed we’re having one and happy that we got to celebrate senior night, and all our seniors could be there and everyone on our team is healthy and doing well.”