When the season is on the line, it pays to find any way to swing the momentum back in your team’s favor.
When the momentum was going against them on Thursday night, the Marshall volleyball team was able to do just that; the Cardinals overcame a tough start in their WIAA Regional Semifinal contest against Lomira, defeating the Lions 3-1 to move onto the next round.
Early on, it was anything but easygoing for the Cardinals. Marshall’s latest lead in the first set came when the score was just 5-4, and the Lions seemed to have the Cardinals’ number.
Although they did close the gap to as close as one point, Marshall never regained the lead in the first set, and Lomira took a 1-0 lead with a 25-22 win.
The game-changing moment came midway through the second set. Trailing 12-16 with their season’s future in doubt, the Cardinals finally came to life. Marshall ripped off a 7-0 run to take control of the set.
“We started getting some aces, and the momentum swing came in our favor; we just rode that,” said Marshall’s Head Coach Christina Schmitz. “We started getting energy and moving our feet and ended up playing the ball really smart and really aggressive.”
The Lions closed to within one point at 19-18, but the Cardinals won six of the final nine points to seal the second set 25-21.
With everything clicking, Marshall continued their tear in set number three. Already up 12-5, the Cardinals thoroughly controlled the remainder of the set, closing on a 13-2 run including all of the final seven points. Malena King capped the set with back-to-back aces to clinch the set.
“It’s one of the better sets that we’ve played,” Schmitz said of set number three. “In that set, we were a complete team and played extremely well.”
Up 2-1 following the 25-7 third-set win, Marshall was on the brink of moving onto the final of their WIAA Regional Bracket.
The Cardinals just kept on rolling as the fourth began; any time Lomira threatened to gain momentum, the Cardinals were there to swing the pendulum back in Marshall’s favor.
In particular, Anna Lutz made a handful of big blocks and kills in the fourth. Having missed a handful of games late in the regular season, the presence of Lutz in the lineup was a big boost for Marshall.
“It’s huge having Anna back,” said Schmitz. “Not only does she play really well offensively and defensively for us, she’s also a huge impact on our team just with her presence and attitude.”
After the Lions cut the lead to 19-14 late in the set, the Cardinals once again took control. Marshall ended on a 6-1 run to take set number four 25-15 and the game with it.
Kiana Hellenbrand led the Cardinals with 15 kills, followed by Lutz with seven. Lutz and Hellenbrand tied for tops on the team with three blocks apiece, while Aubrie Kappes led the team with 16 digs. Malena King recorded eight aces on the night, and Skyla Michalak tallied a total of 32 assists.
With the win, the third-seeded Cardinals advance to Saturday’s WIAA Regional Final contest against the No. 2 seed Laconia Spartans.
“They’re another team that we need to prepare for…” said Schmitz. “If we play our game to the best of our ability, I have a feeling that we’re going to come away winners.”
Start time in Laconia is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday night.