NIAGARA, Wis. - October's Niagara Badgers, not to be confused with the September edition, erased Suring 3-0 (25-13, 25-10, 26-24) in a WIAA Division 4 volleyball regional semifinal Thursday.
The Badgers, who dominated the first two sets but needed a minor comeback in the third, improved to 7-0 for October. They were 4-4 in September.
"It's a tribute to my kids," Niagara Coach Carol St. Arnauld said. "They have stepped up their game since a couple weeks ago and we've been getting better and better.
Niagara’s Shelby Borchardt bumps a serve while Maryellen Wagener provides encouragement in Thursday’s WIAA Division 4 volleyball regional semifinal.
"They've been working hard and it's been showing in our play."
Niagara, which travels to top-seeded Wabeno on Saturday for the regional title, blitzed Suring in the first two sets. Maryellen Wagener (21 kills for the match) and Kaitlyn Lundin keyed the first-set romp.
The Badgers jumped out to an 8-0 edge in the second set and never let up.
"We really took it to them," St. Arnauld said. "We were hitting the ball hard and doing really good things."
Niagara opened the regular season by sweeping Suring. Just three weeks ago, the Badgers needed five sets to bounce the Eagles.
"I knew they (Suring) weren't going to let up," St. Arnauld said. "They played with everything they had and had us against the wall."
Niagara miscues along with improved Suring defense brought about the close third-set. The Eagles also left the middle open and took away the corners in the third set, St. Arnauld noted.
"They were picking up the balls that were aces in game one and game two," St. Arnauld said. "We had a rough time and I knew they were going to give us a battle."
Niagara, with key strikes from sophomore Shanna Nordell and Lundin, recovered from a 22-19 deficit in the third set. With the set locked up at 24-24, Wagener delivered a kill and sophomore Shelby Borchardt wrapped up the match with a kill.
"I knew if my kids came out and played like they have been playing, they would take of business," St. Arnauld said.
Borchardt collected 32 digs, followed by Nordell, 22; Wagener, 21, and Paige Lindlbauer, 16. Sophomore Abbey Bagnieschi tallied 21 assists and Danielle Bennett had 13.
Calley VanBellinger's 11 kills, Kelsey School's 12 asissts and Jacqueline Lenz's 14 digs paced Suring.
Niagara and Wabeno will meet for the first time this season Saturday night. The Northern Lakes Conference champion Logrollers spanked Bowler 3-0 (25-22, 25-12, 25-20) Thursday.
"They have a nice team and we'll have to play good ball, plain and simple," St. Arnauld said. "I know they're beatable but we have to be on top of our game and minimize mistakes."
And keep playing like the team from October.
Niagara summary follows:
Danielle Bennett - 1 kill, 2 digs, 13 assists.
Maryellen Wagener - 21 kills, 21 digs, 2 assists.
Shelby Borchardt - 6 kills, 32 digs.
Kaitlyn Lundin - 15 kills, 1 assist.
Abbey Bagnieschi - 3 digs, 21 assists.
Shanna Nordell - 9 kills, 22 digs.
Melinda MacDonald - 1 dig.
Paige Lindlbauer - 16 digs.
Kate Nawn - 1 kill, 3 assists.