Volleyball: Gresham on a roll as postseason nears

Wildcats earn win on senior night
Morgan Rode
Sports Editor

GRESHAM — The Gresham Community High School volleyball team has enjoyed a strong season on the court, winning the Central Wisconsin Conference-North Division title and earning a top seed for the postseason after racking up plenty of wins.

The Wildcats continued their strong late season push with a nonconference sweep of Stockbridge on Tuesday, winning by scores of 25-22, 25-12, 25-19.

Gresham honored five seniors — Brooklyn Hoffman, Jayden Jensen, Jada James, Karisa Nietzer and Monique Terrio — before the match, and each player helped out during the sweep.

Gresham coach Tim Wild said the group has played a big part in the program’s recent success on the court, which includes two conference titles and a regional title over the past three seasons. “They’ve had a lot of success on and off the court, and that’s starting to show.”

Nietzer finished the night with 16 attack kills, four block kills and four aces, while Jensen provided strong serving and had 12 service points. Hoffman finished with 14 assists.

“It just means a lot. Just like going back on all the memories you have and to finish strong, it just means a lot personally and as a team,” said Nietzer of the win.

“It meant a lot to me tonight. I’m really proud of my teammates; we really just worked together really well on the court tonight,” said Hoffman. “It was just a great feeling to get the win, especially on senior night.”

All five of the Wildcat seniors started the match and worked as a unit to battle back from an early deficit.

Sophomore Valarie Cerveny and Nietzer each had multiple kills in the early going, while Jensen served a couple aces. Jensen was also serving when the team went on a 4-0 run to take a 15-12 lead, with Nietzer and Terrio each earning points for the hosts during the spurt.

Stockbridge continued to fight, but Gresham never relinquished the lead. A Stockbridge serving error sealed the first-set win for Gresham.

“I think communication was a huge key,” said Jensen, of what went well in the win. “When we play like a team, that’s when we play our best.”

“I think it (senior night) was a huge opportunity for us to really show our talents, and we got different players in, which is always awesome.”

Nietzer had an attack kill and block kill to help the Wildcats out to an early lead in the second set. Junior Makayla Belongia served an ace before Valarie Cerveny had a block kill to put the hosts up 12-5 and force a Stockbridge timeout.

Stockbridge trimmed the deficit down to three before Nietzer took over. The talented senior had a trio of kills as the Wildcats went on a 5-0 run with sophomore Hannah Cerveny serving.

Nietzer earned her team a couple points on tips to increase the lead to 20-12 before taking over as the server and guiding her team to the final five points of the set. During the run, she served a pair of aces before finishing off the set with an kill from the back row.

“I’d say the crowd and the intensity we had,” said Nietzer on what helped the team earn the sweep. “We really had it together and were able to keep control.”

The third set was a back-and-forth battle in the early going before Gresham went on a 5-0 run with Jensen serving to go up 10-5.

Stockbridge whittled the deficit down before tying the set at 17, but the Wildcats answered with a 6-0 run to regain control. Nietzer added several more kills during the stretch, while Hannah Cerveny served.

A Stockbridge serving error sealed the set, giving Gresham its 15th win on the season. Sophomore libero Kalayla Tucker tallied nine digs to round out a strong team effort for Gresham.

“I definitely think that we’re headed in the right direction right now,” said Wild. “Not just in skills and the way we’re playing, but we’re really loose as a team. We’re having fun out there. There’s a lot of smiles, and everybody is working together, and that’s a huge part of why we’re having so much success right now.”

“I think we are all very confident; we’re all ready for the playoffs and very excited. We’re hoping to make it back to the regional finals again this year,” said Hoffman.

Gresham is a No. 1 seed in Division 4 and will host eighth-seeded White Lake on Tuesday.