By RON DEUTER
FLORENCE, Wis. - What started as a cake walk turned into a fight for the season for the Florence Lady Cats Thursday evening in WIAA Division 4 regional semifinal volleyball action.
Theresa Peterson/The Daily News Photo
Florence’s Emma Baumgart (10) and Aly Young (22) put up a double block attempt in their WIAA?Division 4 regional semifinal against Elcho Thursday evening. Young led the Lady Cats with eight kills in the match.
The Lady Cats, after finding little resistance in the first set, found themselves down 2-1 to Elcho before rallying for a 3-2 (25-10, 23-25, 22-25, 25-15, 15-7) victory.
"That was a great battle," Florence head coach Trudy Rochon said. "Elcho was scrappy."
Aly Young totaled eight kills, while Emma Baumgart, Lauren Jones and Shannon Drexler each added six more for Florence. But after the dominating first set, it took until late in the match for the Florence attackers to finally find their groove again.
"Elcho picked up its game big time," Rochon said. "They were digging, and once they started digging it up, I think we stopped hitting the ball as hard."
Florence led 22-19 in set two before Elcho rallied back. Kills by Shelby Ruhland and Makayla Raith followed by a Ruhland ace allowed the Hornets to turn a 23-22 deficit into a set victory.
From then it was game on.
"They are a senior-laden squad like us, and I think they just didn't want to be done," Rochon said.
Elcho rode its momentum into a slight lead late in set three, but multiple hits by Drexler and Young helped the Lady Cats pull within 20-19.
Florence was looking to add another point, but a block on the outside by Elcho's Kelly Hanson stopped the Florence momentum. Kills by Raith and Hanson helped finish the set in the visitor's favor.
Several blocks by Raith early in set four helped keep things tight, but midway through, Florence's offense started finding holes.
With Young leading the way, the Lady Cats took over momentum and control of the match. Florence closed set four on a 14-4 run and catapulted to a 7-1 advantage in the decisive fifth set - putting Elcho in too deep a hole to climb back from.
"This was one of those games where you feel bad someone had to lose, because they gave it all they had," Rochon said.
Rochon said the turnaround for Florence late in the match was about regaining an aggressive attack.
"My girls started hitting the ball hard again," she said. "For a while there the sets weren't on the net. When the sets are on the net, we've got some hitters who can put it down.
"Maybe that's a better thing in the end, to have to fight and be down 2-1 and know you can come back - dig deep and find a way to win."
The Lady Cats will travel to Wausaukee for a regional final Saturday night at 7 p.m. The Rangers, a two seed, swept Laona last night.
Emma Baumgart - 6 kills; Morgan Walker - 1 kill, 4 digs, 2 aces, 100-percent serving; Sarah Walstrom - 10 digs, 100-percent serving; Heather Marin - 1 kill, 2 digs; Aly Young - 8 kills, 13 assists, 2 digs, 5 aces; Lauren Jones - 6 kills, 9 assists, 2 aces, 100-percent serving; Shannon Drexler - 6 kills, 4 digs, 3 aces, 100-percent serving.