By BURT ANGELI
IRON MOUNTAIN - The Goodman-Pembine co-op, two high schools with a somewhat bare volleyball history, captured a regional title in its first season.
Burt Angeli/The Daily News Photos
Goodman-Pembine’s Miranda Kelly returns a serve while Rachel Stankevich observes in Saturday’s WIAA Division 4 regional final match with Florence. The Patriots play in a sectional semifinal Thursday.
Coach Ashley Kalkofen's Patriots, down 2-0 after two sets and 17-11 in the third, rallied past Florence 3-2 on the Bobcats' home court Saturday night.
Goodman-Pembine (21-4) and Suring will clash at 7 p.m. Thursday at Gillett in a WIAA Division 4 sectional semifinal. The Patriots had hopes for big season from the first day of practice.
"Just looking at our speed and height," said Patriots senior middle hitter Rachel Stankevich when asked what fueled the optimism for a successful season. "When we went to the Crivitz tournament (in August) we gelled so well together. I thought could actually go pretty far with this if we keep it up."
Goodman-Pembine survived other five-set matches this season including a couple where they fought out of 0-2 holes. The Patriots, third in the Northern Lakes Conference this season, gained the second seed in the regional behind Florence.
The Bobcats had beat the Patriots twice during the regular season.
"We had the mindset we were going to win and that's how we came in," Stankevich said.
Goodman-Pembine's comeback didn't surprise the head coach.
"When we're down by two, we know how to come back," Kalkofen said. "We have the strength to fight back. They figured out what they had to do and they did it.
"I told the girls before the game 'don't even think of losing, you have worked to hard to lose tonight.'"
Suring and Goodman-Pembine did not meet in the regular season. But the Eagles and M&O Conference foe Niagara did split a pair of five-set matches.
"Suring is scrappy with one really good hitter," Niagara Coach Carol St. Arnauld said. "Goodman-Pembine is definitely taller.
"For Suring, it depends on how well they can block at the net and take away potential threats (for GP)."
Net play from Stankevich, Courtney Goyak, Gabby Johnson and Kayleigh Betka along with sets and assists from Marissa Moloney, Miranda Kelly, Britney Stepien and Larissa Keely fueled the Patriots.
Goodman, according to Kalkofen, won a regional volleyball title in 1973.
"We're excited for sectionals and hope to make the Northern Lakes proud," Kalkofen said.
State-ranked Wausau Newman Catholic and Greenwood will clash in the other sectional semifinal at Marion. Sectional final takes place Saturday at Marathon.