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‘Cats advance to face Badgers

Top Elcho, 3-1

(Matt McCarthy/Daily News photo) Florence junior Morgan Tomczak (15) winds up to make a play on the ball as Elcho’s Kailey Kupfer, left, and Emily Moore watch the play in a WIAA Division 4 volleyball regional match on Tuesday at Florence High School. The LadyCats prevailed, 3-1.

FLORENCE, Wis. — The fourth meeting of the season can bring out the best in both teams. Florence hosted Northern Lakes Conference opponent Elcho in a WIAA Division 4 volleyball regional match Tuesday, with the LadyCats prevailing, 3-1 (25-10, 25-16, 20-25, 26-24).

It was the fourth win in four matches versus Elcho for Florence, but this one presented quite a challenge for the home team.

The opening set had Elcho on their heels. So much so, the outcome (25-10) set the tone for the rest of the match.

Sophomore Isabella Millan started the night off with an ace on the opening serve for Florence, which propelled them to an early 7-1 lead, Lady Hornets head coach Kate Dulmes called a time out. However, at one point, Florence led 15-3 in the set, on their way to the 15-point win.

“Our energy level and confidence was high right from the get go,” said Florence head coach Teresa Chrisman. “Then it went away and we seemed to sputter a bit at times and they (Elcho) got back in the match.”

Set two started out with Elcho taking a quick 3-0 lead, extending it to a 4-2 margin. As the action continued in a see-saw manner, the LadyCats crept back into the set, eventually taking a 13-10 lead, despite the Hornets play and aggressiveness getting stronger.

Florence junior Tylie Fyvie and her powerful and accurate serving pushed the home teams lead to 19-12 lead with Dulmes calling another Hornets timeout. The floor awareness of Florence increased substantially in set two and was paired with their strong communication.

A Kamden Johnson kill sealed a nine-point win for Florence in set No. 2. Set three was where a momentum swing shifted the match.

The LadyCats slipped ahead by a two-point margin, 10-8, despite a pair of serving aces in the early stages of the set. Elcho tied the score at 10-10 and then took a 11-10 lead with Florence tying things up again at 11-11.

As Elcho went ahead, 14-11, it was apparent the they weren’t going to let the lead and the set slip away. The Hornets eventually extended their lead to 18-12, with Florence charging back in and tying this up yet again at 18-18, as the serving of Maddy Johnson overpowered the Lady Hornets in the six-point Florence run.

With Elcho ahead 18-17, the longest and most exciting rally of the match took place. The 18th point for the Bobcats was off of an impressive diving dig from Millan.

“That’s been something that has gotten us in trouble the whole season, with inconsistent play,” Chrisman added. “But Elcho, they sure played scrappy and really wanted to win tonight.”

The visitors took set three, 25-20.

In the final set, the LadyCats jumped out to a 7-2 lead, but once again the momentum shifted to Elcho.

Maddy Johnson’s serving accuracy came into play again, with Florence taking an 18-11 lead. But the Hornets kept fighting for every point, as they slowly climbed back into contention, getting the score to 20-15, and then 21-19. With Florence leading 24-22, Elcho grabbed the next two points, to tie the match at 24-24.

With the score tied and Elcho serving, a well placed return hit by Maddy Johnson gave the Ladycats the lead (25-24) and the ball.

Like her opening serve of the night, Millan ended the match with an ace for Florence.

The LadyCats will face Niagara Thursday in a WIAA Division 4 Regional matchup, at 7 p.m. at Niagara High School.

“We’re going to have to play our absolute best volleyball to beat Niagara Thursday,” Chrisman stated. “I know we’ll have to play at a high level the whole match to win. But I am excited for Thursday.”

Florence Stats

Leah Young: 3 kills, 1 dig, 1 ace, 100% serving

Isabella Millan: 16 kills, 2 aces, 2 digs, 100% serving

Morgan Tomczak: 17 Kills, 1 ace

Victoria Peterson: 1 kill, 1 block

Madison Johnson: 29 assists, 5 aces

Tylie Fyvie: 8 kills, 1 block, 3 aces

Kamdan Johnson: 10 kills, 2 blocks, 12 assists, 1 ace

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