25-1 second set turns things quickly in Gilman’s first-round win
BY MATT FREY
The 13th-seeded Clayton Bears had heavily-favored Gilman reeling early in Tuesday’s WIAA Division 4 volleyball regional opener, but the momentum swung the Pirates’ way big time in the second set and they never looked back in a 3-1 win.
The win extends the season at least one more round for the 22-7 Pirates, who will host fifth-seeded Turtle Lake tonight, Thursday, at 7 p.m. in a regional semifinal matchup.
In Tuesday’s match, the Bears jumped out to a 7-2 lead in game one on a serving run by Isabelle Magnuson before kills by Grace Grunseth and Aubrey Syryczuk off Evelyn Fryza assists got the Pirates started on a little run that eventually pulled them within 11-8.
But Clayton kept up the pressure and never let the lead go, winning the opening set 25-19.
“In set one we came out a bit nervous,” Gilman head coach Janice Komanec said. “When we got down by a couple points, the nerves really set in. Our defensive movement wasn’t as fluent as usual.
Komanec said some defensive adjustments in game two led to some success. Success rebuilt Gilman’s confidence and, from there, the fourth-seeded Pirates got back to their winning ways.
“Going into set two, we talked about our defensive position and confidence and our serve receive confidence. Once our defense starting passing, our offense could get to work. We earned those first couple points in set two and the con- fidence was back. Set two had a lot of earned points from offense.”
Komanec said the defensive adjustment countered the finesse attack Clayton had successfully started the match with.
“Their middle attack was getting points on us by pushing corners and gorun ing off speed,” she said. “We actually changed to a single block out of the middle to be able to cover more of the tip and loose ball.”
Montana Birkenholz was the opening server in game two and she wasn’t done until Gilman led 16-0. Highlights in the included a dump kill from Fryza at 2-0, kills from Jaiden Sedivy off Fryza assists that push leads to 6-0 and 9-0, a big Grace Grunseth kill at 11-0 and two Birkenholz aces.
Clayton finally got a point on a sideout, but Gilman got the serve right back and Sammi Person closed out the 25-1 win. Person had two aces in her serving run, while Grunseth had two block kills as well as an attack kill.
The momentum continued in game three, which opened with kills from Birkenholz and Grunseth. With Sedivy serving, the Pirates opened up a 7-1 lead. Fryza and Grunseth teamed up for a block and Aubrey Syryczuk launched a kill to cap the run. Midway through the set, Gilman went on another big run behind a couple of Lexi Chaplinski aces to open up 19-6 lead. Person’s ace finished off a 25-10 win.
Clayton finally got something going again in set four, forging several mid- to late-game ties after falling behind 12-8. Clayton took a brief 17-16 lead but then missed a crucial serve. The teams traded points to 22-22 when Birkenholz served an ace, Fryza set up Grunseth for a kill and the Bears made an error to finish the set and the match at 25-22.
Fryza had 33 assists while Grunseth was the kill leader with 15, followed by Sedivy with 12, Birkenholz with seven and Aubrey Syryczuk with five. Person’s four aces were a team-high, followed by Chaplinski, Birkenholz and Lydia Syryczuk with two each.
Defensively, Grunseth was involved
See GILMAN in six block points while Fryza had a hand in five. Libero Lydia Syryczuk led Gilman with 17 digs, Birkenholz had 11, Chaplinski had 10 and Grunseth added nine.
While Clayton (6-23) was near the bottom of this year’s Central Lakeland Conference standings, the Pirates could face that league’s top two teams in a threeday span. Turtle Lake (18-12) finished 8-2 and in second place in that conference. The Lakers advanced to tonight’s match
EASTERN CLOVERBELT CONFERENCE VOLLEYBALL FINAL STANDINGS Conf. W L Columbus Catholic 6 1
Gilman 6 1
Owen-Withee 5 2 Neillsville 4 3 Loyal 4 3 Greenwood 2 5 Spencer 1 6 Colby 0 7 Oct. 17 Cloverbelt Championship: Fall Creek 3, Columbus Catholic 0.
Oct. 22 WIAA Div. 4 regionals: Gilman 3, Clayton 1; Prairie Farm 3, Owen-Withee 0; Greenwood 3, Plum City-Elmwood 1; Columbus Catholic 3, Port Edwards 0; Loyal 3, Tri-County 0. Oct. 22 WIAA Div. 3 regionals: Thorp 3, Neillsville 2; Auburndale 3, Colby 0; Stratford 3, Spencer 0.
Oct. 24 WIAA Div. 4 regional semifinals: Turtle Lake at Gilman, Greenwood at McDonell Central, Rib Lake at Columbus Catholic, Loyal at Prentice.
Oct. 26 WIAA Div. 4 regional finals: Turtle Lake/ Gilman winner vs. Prairie Farm/Clear Lake winner,
Luck/E.C. Immanuel Lutheran winner vs. Greenwood/ McDonell Central winner, W.R. Assumption/Athens winner vs. Rib Lake/Columbus Catholic winner.
Oct. 31: WIAA Div. 4 sectional semifinals.
by beating 12th-seeded Cornell 25-11, 2513, 25-9 Tuesday.
The other side of the regional bracket has ninth-seeded Prairie Farm playing top-seeded and undefeated Clear Lake Thursday in a Central Lakeland matchup. Prairie Farm knocked off eighthseeded Owen-Withee 25-9, 25-15, 25-14 on Tuesday, while 40-0 Clear Lake destroyed 16th-seeded New Auburn 25-6, 25-2, 25-9. Clear Lake is the top-ranked Division 4 team in the state and has lost only five sets all year.
Tonight’s winners will meet Saturday at 7 p.m. on the higher seed’s home floor. Saturday’s winner moves on to the sectional semifinal round Oct. 31.
GREAT NORTHERN CONFERENCE GIRLS TENNIS FINAL STANDINGS Duals Dual Meet Total W-L Pts. Pts. Pts.
Rhinelander 7-0 92 33 125 Antigo 6-1 82 25 107 Newman Cath. 5-2 64 18 82 Medford 4-3 54 14 68
S.P. Pacelli 3-4 40 8 48 Lakeland 2-5 36 5 41 Colum. Cath. 1-6 20 2 22 Phillips 0-7 4 0 4 Oct. 17 WIAA Div. 2 state: Becky Larrain, Newman, def. Kaytlyn Hartfield, Kiel, 6-2, 6-3; Taylor Vyskocil, Ashland def. Ali Bennett, Newman, 1-6, 7-6 (5), 10-2; Emma Jares/Drew Korth, St. Mary Catholic, def. Ella Schroeder/Marissa Stolt, Pacelli, 6-4, 7-6 (9). Oct. 18 WIAA Div. 2 state: Becky Larrain, Newman, def. Morgan Dekan, Altoona, 6-2, 7-5; Margaret Bugnacki, Shorewood, def. Becky Larrain, 6-2, 6-0. Oct. 19 WIAA Div. 2 state: Mallory Moen, St. Mary Catholic def. Becky Larrain 2-6, 6-1, 6-2.