Loud and clear
Big Foot reaches first sectional since 2007
Maggie Kivlin (from left), Katarina Rotta, Meghan Schneider and Annie Kunes celebrate a point last Thursday.
October 26, 2011 | 07:19 AMWALWORTH — This was it.
If the Big Foot volleyball squad was going to be taken seriously, really seriously, in Division 2, it would have to kick a giant monkey off its back — Lakeside Lutheran.
Lutheran ended Big Foot's season the last two years.
But it's a new day, and these Lady Chiefs won't go away that easily.
They made that perfectly clear with a 25-14, 25-19, 25-16 throttling of Lutheran Saturday night in a WIAA Division 2 regional final.
For the first time since 2007, coach Jen Stelling's bunch will compete at sectionals. They travel to Lake Mills Thursday night to battle another No. 1 seed, McFarland, at 7 p.m. The Chiefs beat McFarland two weeks ago at the Rock Valley tournament, 2-1.
"It felt good to beat Lakeside," Stelling said. "The girls came out relaxed and things went our way. I thought it would be closer. We played better than the first time we faced them."
Senior Amy Schryver returned to the lineup after missing last Thursday's playoff-opening win with a banged-up ankle. Stelling said having Schryver back was a big help and made the lineup consistent.
Stelling said the team's blocking defense was key in the victory.
Annie Kunes and Meghan Schneider, the team's two senior captains, had stellar games. Kunes paced the club in kills with nine and aces with three. Schneider added seven kills and led the charge with five blocks.
Mackenzie Long provided 19 digs. Katarina Rotta pitched in 27 assists.
Kunes and Schneider were ecstatic after the win.
"Finally," Kunes and Schneider proclaimed.
"Laura Hanley did a really nice job stepping in for Amy, but it was nice having our normal lineup," Schneider said.
The girls credited Rotta's addition (transfer student from Rockford, Ill.) for a lot of the team's success this season.
"It's been very nice," Schneider said. "She does a lot for our offense. There's a lot of chemistry between her and the hitters. She fit right in. From the beginning when she came to team camp, I was rooming with her, and it was like we'd been friends for a long time."
Kunes said Rotta has helped take the squad to a new level.
"Right now, we're really confident where we're at," Kunes said.
Schneider said despite the success, her team is humble and realistic.
"We're thinking one game at a time," she said. "We've always had our eyes in the prize in past years. But it's the little things. We have great offense and defense, but a little mechanical fix is going to win those long rallies."
Kunes said it was emotional for the players to get past Lakeside Lutheran, a team they've personally never beaten in the playoffs.
Can anything stop these girls from playing in the Resch Center in Green Bay in November?
"Injuries," Kunes said. "Sickness. Everyone needs to stay healthy. Maggie Kivlin played through strep throat. Molly Kovarik and Schryver are battling through rolled ankles."
The new girl in town, Rotta is enjoying the ride.
"I have unlimited places to set the ball," Rotta said. "No matter who I give it to, they can do something with it and I can trust them not to have an error. And I get great passes from Mackenzie (Long) behind me."
Rotta said the Chiefs are for real.
"I feel like we're different from other teams," she said. "We don't let down ever, and we're always pushing. We don't give up on anything."
Big Foot def. Jefferson, 25-22, 25-13, 25-17
The Lady Chiefs made quick and easy work of the Eagles Oct. 20 in Walworth.
The top-seeded Chiefs were without Schryver, but Hanley stepped up and Big Foot didn't miss a beat.
Hanley answered the call, tallying six aces to pace the club. Sydney Racky slammed home 13 kills.
Kunes added 20 digs, and Schneider had five blocks.