Raiders’ memorable season ends
Squad falls to Stanley-Boyd in sectionals
By Casey Krautkramer
Marathon’s volleyball team fell, 3-1, to a Stanley-Boyd squad with a pair of tough hitters in Thursday’s WIAA Division 3 sectional semifinals match in Marathon’s gym.
The Red Raiders and Orioles exchanged points backand- forth during a close first set, in which the Orioles won, 25-22. Marathon’s sister duo of senior Vanessa Krueger and sophomore Ava Krueger scored two straight points, on Vanessa’s attack kill and Ava’s ace serve, to give the Red Raiders a slim 20-19 lead in the first set. In the end, Stanley-Boyd’s tall frontline players, senior Lily Hoel and junior Emily Brenner, were on fire with dominating spikes in leading the Orioles to the set victory.
Stanley-Boyd took an early 7-2 lead against Marathon in the second set, thanks to stellar play by Hoel and Brenner, until the Red Raiders snuck back into the set on Ava Krueger’s two straight aces. Ava Krueger achieved a string of two more consecutive aces to tie the set at 10 points apiece. The two squads exchanged back-and-forth blows until Brenner slammed down a kill to hand Stanley-Boyd a 30-28 set win.
Marathon’s student section, led by seniors Noah Gage and Ben Robbins, cheered louder in support of their volleyball squad. Marathon senior Allison Wokatsch’s biggest fan, her sister Jordyn Wokatsch, stood up high in the bleachers with her sign to cheer Allison and her teammates to a win in the third set. Ava Krueger’s block prompted the team’s student section to cheer “Welcome to the block party.”
Red Raiders junior setter Ashley Phakitthong’s ace gave the squad a 2331 advantage against the Orioles in the third set, which was followed by Vanessa Krueger’s spike kill. Marathon’s student section held up their fingers to signify their team only needed one more point to take the set, and senior Alyssa Hall delivered with a spike kill. Hall was determined to help her team win the third set.
“We play a lot better when we are playing aggressively, so I just knew I had to give it all I had,” Hall said.
Stanley-Boyd’s top two players didn’t have as much success in the latter part of the match as they did at the beginning of it, but the Orioles still managed to top the Red Raiders, 25-21, in the fourth set to win the match. As soon as the match ended, Marathon’s volleyball players and managers, cohead coaches Lynelle Love and Nicole Schneider and the assistant coaches immediately walked out of the gym into their locker room.
“It is an amazing group of girls, not only on the court but off the court,” Love said. “We wanted to be in the locker room right away so we could talk together. We had the seniors speak up like they always do, and one of them said this match loss doesn’t take away from all that we’ve accomplished. They’ve had so much fun playing together and it’s been an absolute joy to coach them.
“We have grown together very close and they have worked tremendously hard on all of their skills. The way they throw their bodies around on the volleyball court for each other is just a testament to what they want to do for each other. This group is special.”
Marathon’s volleyball team won both back-to-back Marawood South Conference and WIAA Division 3 regional championships. Marathon also beat Phillips in the Marawood Conference first-place crossover match this season to become the overall Marawood Conference champions. The Red Raiders concluded this season with a 26-7 match record, after finishing 10-4 in matches during the 2020 season, which was hampered by matches being canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Senior hitter Alyssa Hall and her teammates shed a few tears after their Marathon High School volleyball playing careers came to a close on Thursday night, which players in all sports normally do, but they also realized they accomplished a tremendous amount of success during the past two seasons.
“This loss doesn’t take away from us winning the regional finals the past two years,” Hall said. “We won the south conference and then the whole Marawood Conference this year, so when we look back at everything we’ve accomplished, one match doesn’t take away from any of that.”
She will certainly miss the camaraderie she and her senior teammates developed together over the course of several years playing together on the volleyball court.
“We’ve been playing together since fourth grade and some of us played club volleyball together too,” Hall said. “The one thing I’ll remember most about my senior volleyball season is just playing with my teammates, because it seems like we’ve been play- ing together forever and they are all my best friends.”
Love reminded her senior players they helped the team improve each and every year during their Marathon High School volleyball careers. Eight of the 12 volleyball players on Marathon’s varsity roster are seniors this season, including four of the team’s six starting players.
“They’ve accomplished so much and they had joy in doing it,” Love said. “Some teams have a lot of success but they just fight coming to practice every day and this group loves to just be together. Our practices were fun and full of hard work, but in the end we were a team and we enjoyed each other.”
Vanessa Krueger led Marathon with 15 attack kills in the WIAA Division 3 sectional semifinals match loss to Stanley-Boyd, while Ava Krueger added 14. Alyssa Hall contributed eight kills and senior Allison Wokatsch had six. Emily Brenner led Stanley-Boyd with 21 kills and Lily Hoel added 14.
Ava Krueger paced the Red Raiders with six ace serves, while junior Ashley Phakitthong added two. Hoel led the Orioles with three aces. Ava Krueger also led Marathon with three block assists, while Hoel paced Stanley- Boyd with four solo blocks. Ava Krueger led the Red Raiders with 13 digs on defense, while Phakitthong had 11 and Vanessa Krueger 10. Senior Jenna Aschenbrenner added nine digs and Wokatsch had eight.
Junior Kayte Licht and Brenner paced the Orioles with 22 digs apiece, while Hoel had 17 and junior Tina Benson 10. Wokatsch led Marathon with 23 pass assists and Phakitthong added 19, while junior Avery Vait paced Stanley-Boyd with 23.
Stanley Boyd ended this season with a 27-6 match record after losing to Oconto, 3-1, in the WIAA Division 3 sectional championship match on Saturday night in Amherst.