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Hornets show pride with 20-year State volleyball reunion

Hornets show pride with 20-year State volleyball reunion Hornets show pride with 20-year State volleyball reunion

By Ginna Young

What started out as an impossible run at a title, culminated in the 1999 Cadott volleyball team bringing home Division 3 State runner-up honors, 20 years ago, Nov. 5.

“We were an underdog, for sure, going in,” said 1999 coach Tricia Dresel. “In 1999, it was not an expectation to go to State, by any means.”

The Hornets lost their first match of the year, but after that, they never looked back, ending with a 17-4 overall record and finishing 6-0, as the champs of the West Cloverbelt Conference.

Dresel, a 1991 Cadott High School alumni, started her coaching career in 1992, as an assistant, before she was promoted to fulltime head coach in 1997. That year’s motto for the team, was “defense wins games, offense sells tickets.”

The players on Dresel’s squad took that to heart, setting down almost every opponent who stood in their way.

“They lived and breathed defense,” said Dresel. “Everyone was pretty equal and they all did their part to make everyone better.”

Dresel says each girl on the Cadott squad played for the team and never made it about individuals, as they put their trust in their coach, backed by a strong support system from parents.

Cadott defeated Bloomer in the Regionals and swept by Grantsburg at Sectionals, 3-1, to claim a berth in the State tournament. Dresel recalls an instance from the Grantsburg matches that still brings a laugh, where the Hornets defense was underestimated, as well as offense.

“I just remember sitting on the bench and I hear him (Grantsburg coach) yelling at his assistant coaches, ‘Why can’t we block her’?” said Dresel. “And it was Tammy Pilgrim, who was 5 feet, seven inches.”

Pilgrim went vertical, jumping higher than her opponent’s blocks, despite playing with mononucleosis.

“I’ll never forget that,” said Dresel.

With the win over Grantsburg, it was on to State. However, the team couldn’t leave their hometown without a memorable exit. At a pep rally before they set off, the team received personalized Wheaties boxes from parents (which many of the players still have), as well as gift baskets from salons in the town.

“The first four seats of the bus were full of stuff, that we were like, OK, are we all going to fit on the bus?” said Dresel. “You name it, we had it. The parents were just so awesome about it.”

Bolstered by support from the community – the schools actually closed to cheer on the team – the Hornets blew by Oconto, 3-1 (who had one of the best hitters in the state and was expected to “pummel” Cadott), to advance to the championship match the next day. Unfortunately, Cadott couldn’t pull out the underdog win, losing the State final match to Dodgeville in straight sets, 15-9, 15-11 and 17-15.

Dresel says she told the girls as long as they gave it everything they had, that was all that mattered, but said that playing in the State final was a surprise. She encouraged her team to leave it all on the floor and that no matter what, Cadott was bringing home a trophy (silver ball).

“Looking back, I wish I would have said, no, we are going to come home with a gold ball,” said Dresel. “It was in our grasp, but I kind of blame myself a little bit, that I didn’t set that standard high enough for them to reach it. We were the better team, we really were.”

Cadott still remembers the 1999 team’s accomplishment, and celebrated the anniversary of the runner-up squad Oct. 15, during the last regular 2019 season home volleyball match.

Making up the 1999 team, were Kari (Roshell) Anderson, Jennifer Bremness, Sara Briggs, Krista (Buetow) Capozzi, Katie (Anderson) Goettl, Melissa (Matott) Jankee, Codee Peterson-Kreeger, Ashley (Danielson) Kren, assistant coach Michelle Krueger, Erin (Loaney) Leslie, Donna (Goodman) Muser, Heather (Eslinger) Norvold, Jill (Goettl) Patten, Jami (Buetow) Rubenzer, Deidra (Peterlik) Rykal and Tammy (Pilgrim) Sykora.

Dresel says her players that year were not only great athletes, but great kids.

“It was the little team that could,” said Dresel. “They never gave up. The mentality…was, they played for each other.”