The Wisconsin Writers Have Spoken and The Picks Are In

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Posted On: 10/31/18 5:51 PM

Ok….it’s time.  The previews have been written, the writers from Wisconsin have coached, watched, or written all season and have made a commitment to providing the best local volleyball coverage possible.  We take great pride in the work we do and seeing these teams that we have followed all season is very rewarding come state tournament time.  We ride the highs and lows of teams and coaches we know, but at the end of the day we are happy to tell the story about these athletes, their coaches, and the communities they play for.  As the high school season winds down this week at the Wisconsin State Volleyball Tournament, here are the pics and previews from all of the Wisconsin Prep Dig Writers! 

Fitz

The Favorites:

Taking a look at the different divisions there are a lot of familiar names that are back with a lot of talent and experience.  

In Division 1, Arrowhead and River Falls are packed with power and Division 1 talent, but for some reason I come back to Burlington and think about a backline with three D1 recruits in Kaley Blake going to Milwaukee, Maddie Berezowitz to Kentucky, and Sam Naber to Marquette.  

In Division 2, the field is so balanced.  Little Chute only has one loss, but East Troy and KML play such a difficult schedule.  Ari Miller is so tough to stop out of the middle for KML, but they have plenty of all around athletes who just know how to win.

Division 3 brings Stratford with an undefeated record.  Mazie Nagel is one of the best kept secrets in the state as a top outside hitter  and after this week the secret could very much be out. Lake Country Lutheran is back to defend its title and Living Word Lutheran is riding quite the hot streak.  Mosinee is a definite sleeper ready to show the state what they can do.

Division 4 is going to be really tough to stop Clayton.  The Bears are back with an experienced roster and just don’t let the ball drop.  Senior middle blocker, Selena Levendoski is so dangerous from all rotations on the court.

Watch Out For:

Waukesha West and Sun Prairie have a ton of firepower in Division 1.  Middle blockers Anna Nerad and Alexis Boling of West are so athletic and if West can be in system they will be quite the matchup problem.  Sun Prairie is led by Loyola recruit KJ McNabb, but also have two of the Sophomores in the state in Payton Addink and Josie Halbleib.

I’m excited to see Keri Walker of of Living Word Lutheran.  With over 500 kills, Walker has committed to play for Northern State in Aberdeen, SD which has been at the top of the D2 polls most of the season.

My Picks:

D1: I feel like I’d have a really good chance if I put all teams in a hat and drew out one of their names as a winner.  I would not be surprised if a lower seeded team got hot and won the whole thing, however Burlington just knows how to get it done come tournament time.  At the state tournament defense is so key and Btown has it. Burlington in a repeat.

D2: KML is playing so well right now.  If they can serve receive and distribute to all of their hitters and let Ari Miller control the net they will be tough to stop.  I see a marathon championship match between them and East Troy with KML getting the gold ball.

D3: Stratford is undefeated, but Living Word Lutheran has lost once in the past month.  Who was that to? Lake Country Lutheran. Lake Country Lutheran is playing its best ball right now and has the experience of the whole atmosphere.  I’m going with the Lightning of Lake Country Lutheran.

D4: Clayton. So tough, so gritty, they just find a way.

Did You Know:

I was a teacher in the Kimberly Area School District for seven years.  Starting setter, Kalli Mau, for Kimberly was in my 6th grade class.

River Falls has Mike Kealy (husband to coach Sara Kealy and father to setter Maddi Kealy) and Rob Doerre (father to defensive specialist Abby Doerre) who are part of “The Experience”.  River Falls has their own YouTube channel where they broadcast all of their games live! They will have Volleyball Gameday Live next to the Resch on Friday evening! WATCH The Experience: Gameday Live

 

Rachel Kass

The Favorites:

Division 1: Arrowhead has been an unstoppable force this season they steamrolled through teams like DSHA, Waukesha West, Hamilton, and Menomonee Falls. They are going into the state tournament hot and are definitely a favorite.

Division 2: Kettle Moraine Lutheran may not have the best record in their state tournament, but they also play a very tough schedule. They took out Wisconsin Lutheran who I thought had a chance to make it to the championship in the state tournament.

Division 3: Lake Country Lutheran won the state tournament last year and has a good shot of not only making the championship match, but winning back to back championships. There has also been a lot of talk around Stratford who is undefeated this season so far.

Division 4: River Ridge is undefeated this season and has definitely brought some attention to themselves with their amazing record.  Catholic Central also has a powerhouse team.

Watch Out For:

Greendale: This is Greendale’s 4th straight year going to the state tournament, and they are itching for a win. They have had an extremely successful season and are very strong at finishing matches and keeping the momentum on their side of the court.

Waukesha West: The Wolverines have been on our radar since this summer when they won the Prep Dig Summer League and their pre-season tournament. They went on to win the DSHA Quad and the Sprawl Qualifier during the season. With their powerhouse offense and quick defense, they are sure to make an impact this postseason.

My Picks:

D1: There is almost no way to separate these teams as they each bring something powerful and unique to the tournament. But I have a feeling, whoever wins the Arrowhead vs Waukesha West match will take the tournament.

D2: Kettle Moraine Lutheran

D3: Lake Country Lutheran

D4: Catholic Central

Did You Know:

I am good friends with the varsity coaches at Greendale and Waukesha West! It is amazing to see my friends and their teams (with kids I have coached on them as well) have success in this postseason!

 

Breit Nelson

The Favorites:

I have seen all but 1 team in Division 1 play and I think we have as much ability to predict the winners out of this bunch as we do flipping a coin after assigning each team a side.  By the numbers the top 4 seeds should win their quarterfinal matches. River Falls, Oconomowoc, and Burlington all have recent state experience and have been really dangerous this fall.  The Division 2 competitors are composed of no repeats from last season which is fun. I think these will be some tight battles as I have seen again, all but one of these teams play. KML and East Troy have a strong history of state appearances while Mosinee is pretty new to the season as an unexpected contender with a great mix in their line-up that keeps teams guessing.  In Division 3 I’ve seen have the competitors and these will be some great match-ups! LWL will be an interesting match-up for Stratford in semi-finals with a super middle, Keri Walker against the Tiger’s dominant outside hitter, Mazie Nagel. Usually I am all over the division 4 teams but this year I have seen one in person this season, three of them last season so only one is a bit of a mystery.  Still, I feel like this may be one of the toughest fields D4 has seen in a while. River Ridge is our only newbie whereas Newman, Catholic Central, and Clayton have been dominating this tournament the past few years.

Watch Out For:

In Division 1-Greendale is in their 4th year at state but along with Waukesha West, Sun Prairie, and Kimberly they have had consistency issues.  I wouldn’t count any of them out.  Freshman, Haley Graetz, from River Falls doesn’t get talked about a lot behind strong returners but she can be a surprise and has been a very efficient attacker that has seen regular playing time for the Wildcats.  

In Division 2- East Troy has a wicked left-handed weapon in the young sophomore, Katie Winkler.  She has a heavy swing and can execute. KML has a young up-and-comer of their own in sophomore, Elle Truckenbrod.  I saw Truckenbrod early in the season and at that point she did a great job finding the seam, smart placement, and a heck of a rip down the line.  

In Division 3- LCL has some stellar defenders with one being Adriana Studer.  Studer is solid in serve receive and has a high volleyball IQ. Grantsburg is a program with experience at state so don’t overlook them!

In Division 4- Catholic Central has a good mix in classes in their line-up.  One to look out for is sophomore, Sammie Seib, on the outside.  Still working on some consistency but provides a real threat.

My Picks:

D1: This is definitely a tough division and of course at this level it is anyone’s game but I am going with Arrowhead.  They have the best record against the other 7 teams, they are big, strong, and they can pound the ball with the best. If they can keep up defensively against a fast paced offense they should be able to take it all.

D2:  I believe all matches will be tight in this division but I think Little Chute may come out on top.  They have a strong senior core and while their schedule wasn’t as tough as a couple others, they have figured out how to win… a lot.

D3: I’m torn between Stratford and LCL in this division.  LCL is the defending state champs with some serious defense but Stratford is hungry for this with a majority of their state qualifying team from last season returning and now made up of a majority seniors looking to go out with a bang!  

D4: Another toughie, but I think Clayton will come out on top.  They have a smooth operating system with a lineup that knows each others moves before they even think of making them.

Did You Know:

The Newman head coach, Betty Lange, and I go waaaay back! Betty was one of my club coaches and I also competed against her oldest daughter, Krystle (UWGB) in college, against her middle daughter, Melissa, and youngest daughter, Ashley, in high school.  I also played WITH Ashley in club and WITH Melissa (UWM) in college. I also coached JV and assisted with Varsity at Newman in 2011 under Betty and currently coach club where Betty is a Director. I’ve also been lucky enough to coach a few of the Newman girls in club.

 

Kevin Damask

The Favorites:

Division 1: Is there a sport Arrowhead isn’t good at? The Warhawks seem to dominate everything and could be take home a state volleyball title this weekend. River Falls appears to be very solid as well. But my gut feeling is Burlington, a traditional powerhouse, will climb to the top of the D1 mountain once again.

Division 2: I’ve seen East Troy roll through some very strong teams in my area, so I’m picking them to take the D2 title. East Troy played a rigid schedule this season and should be battle-tested and ready for state.

Division 3: Lake Country Lutheran took out Waterloo in sectionals and the Pirates seemed to be in the midst of a magical season. They might have to tangle with undefeated Stratford in the title game, but I think their talent, along with the experience of winning state last year, will help them prevail.

Division 4: I can see Catholic Central taking out Clayton in a thriller for the D4 title. Why not start Championship Saturday out with a bang, right? Clayton will put up a fight, but Central simply has too much firepower.

Watch Out For:

KJ McNabb has been a steady offensive force for Sun Prairie all season. She had 25 kills in the sectional semifinal win over Holmen. At 5-9, she is not a physically-dominant force along the front row, but she can definitely pound the ball.

My Picks:

D1: Burlington

D2: East Troy

D3: Lake Country Lutheran

D4: Catholic Central

Did You Know:

We all know who NFL on CBS color analyst and former Cowboys star Tony Romo will be pulling for, his alma mater, Burlington High School. Can you imagine Romo calling Burlington’s matches at state? “Oh, they’re setting up for the spike here, Jim!”

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