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Tomahawk takes out Medford with stunning first-round sweep

Tomahawk takes out Medford with stunning first-round sweep Tomahawk takes out Medford with stunning first-round sweep




The Medford Raiders seemed poised for the WIAA Division 2 volleyball postseason as they entered Tuesday’s regional opener on a five-match win streak.

But the Raiders got a humbling lesson that momentum can vanish quickly in volleyball in a stunning 3-0 loss to Tomahawk at Raider Hall in a matchup of ninth and eighth seeds in the sectional bracket.

The Hatchets eliminated Medford in first-round play for the second season in a row, but after the teams had waged fiveset and four-set battles this fall in conference play, the ease in which Tomahawk took Tuesday’s match was something no one saw coming.

“I was very surprised, especially the way we’ve been playing,” Medford head coach Cheryl Schreiner said as her third season at the helm came to an end at 2015. “Coming into this I had a good feeling.”

Medford got the match’s first point on a badly-missed Hatchet serve, but Tomahawk got the next three points, then went on another three-point run and followed a Medford point with another three-point surge to go up 10-3 before Brynn Rau’s free ball found a hole deep in Tomahawk’s defense and Rynn Ruesch got a kill to make it 10-5. The momentum didn’t last past those two points as the Hatchets’ strong senior outside hitter Mady Hanse put down a big kill and the visitors kept widening a lead in a 25-12 game-one thumping.

Tomahawk got its quick game rolling in game one with Hanse and freshman middle Meghan Scholz often beating Medford blocks for uncontested kills.

It was more of the same in game two as Hatchet senior Natalie Zastrow got three early kills and Hanse put down two more for a 10-3 Tomahawk lead. Medford trailed 19-6 before getting on a mini run that closed the gap to 21-12 on a Ruesch kill. But Hanse responded with back-toback kills that made it 23-12. Medford got two points, but Gianna Line tucked a tip inside the sideline and Hanse finished the 25-14 set with a kill.

“We would dig ourselves a hole and once that happens it’s tough to get out obviously,” Schreiner said.

Medford’s energy finally kicked in during game three, but, again, the Raiders played from behind virtually the whole way. Sami Stolp’s roll shot found a hole to get the Raiders within 6-4 early. Rau’s tip made it 12-9. After Tomahawk got up by six, Medford close the gap to 1715 and got within two again at 19-17 when Stolp pushed a winner to the deep corner.

The Hatchets, though, didn’t cave and opened up a 22-17 lead. Kamry Albrecht’s winner got the Raiders within 23-20, but the Hatchets got the next two points to close it out and earn a spot in a regional semifinal tonight, Thursday, at top-seeded Mosinee.

“At least we felt like we had a chance in that one,” Schreiner said of the third set. “We never did have the lead, but I think we got within three at one point and I know what these girls are capable of. We just didn’t take advantage of their mistakes and just got ourselves into that rut again. I thought the energy was better in the third set.”

There were some highlights. Ruesch had eight solo block kills, while Albrecht and Nicks had two apiece. Albrecht had eight kills, while Stolp and Rau had four each and Ruesch had three. Albrecht had 23 digs, Rau and Sierra Hanson had 22 apiece, Nicks had 12 and Bella Veal added seven. Nicks had 17 assists.

“We had such a tough time with our passing that we couldn’t get an offense going,” Schreiner said. “That was our demise tonight. We couldn’t get any momentum. Everybody wants to praise the top kill person but without that pass, it doesn’t happen.”

The Raiders were 37 of 42 in serving (.881 percentage). Though five errors doesn’t seem like a lot, Schreiner said they seemed to come at bad times.

“We’d get the ball back and miss a

See VOLLEYBALL serve,” she said. “That always hurts.”

With the loss, the Raiders say goodbye to 10 seniors and open opportunities next year for a large group of returnees.

“There’s a lot of personalities (in the senior class) and they’re going to be missed,” Schreiner said. “As far as coming in here and working hard every day they were good role models. They did a nice job of stepping into roles, like Alex stepping into that setting role, and just owning it. They did a nice job of adjusting and doing what I asked them to do. The future’s bright. Look at how strong our JV team is. Hopefully the girls will take what happened tonight and learn from it.”