LENA, Wis. - Florence has looked up to Wabeno since the start of the girls volleyball season.
The battling Lady Cats rallied from a 2-1 deficit to sink Wabeno 3-2 (15-25, 25-23, 20-25, 25-18, 15-12) in a thrilling WIAA Division 4 sectional semifinal Thursday.
Burt Angeli/The Daily News Photos
Florence Coach Trudy Rochon breaks the huddle and lets out a yell after the Bobcats defeated Wabeno 3-2 Thursday to reach a WIAA Division 4 girls volleyball sectional final. Florence and Wausau Newman Catholic will clash at 7 p.m. Saturday at Marion for the sectional title and berth in the state semifinals.
Florence (21-15-5) advanced to the sectional finals Saturday, taking on Wausau Newman Catholic at 7 p.m. at Marion. The Cardinals swept Greenwood 3-0 (25-15, 25-19, 25-17) in a sectional semifinal at Wisconsin Rapids.
"That was a barnburner as I knew it would be," Florence Coach Trudy Rochon said. "My girls really wanted it. They wanted a chance to play them again. That was their goal."
Wabeno (32-3) opened the Northern Lakes Conference season in September by sweeping Florence and finishing league play unbeaten. When the WIAA tournament lineup came out, Wabeno earned the No. 1 seed while Florence claimed No. 3.
"This is incredible, it is so awesome," said Florence senior Shannon Drexler, a front row regular when the 2010 Bobcats played in the sectional finals. "I'm almost in tears this is so awesome."
Wabeno, which whipped Niagara in the regional finals Saturday, looked just as strong to launch the sectionals. The Logrollers, after trailing 13-11 in the opening set, put away the Bobcats after kills from Mesa Geiter, Hali Nygard, Brielle Bodoh and Stephanie Prasser.
"Wabeno played well but I don't know if we got a touch at the net in that first game," said Rochon, noting that was a strong suit in erasing Wausaukee in the regional finals. "All we had to do was get a touch on the ball and take something off so that back row can dig it up."
Wabeno held a 21-20 lead in the second game until Drexler tied the set with a smash and Aly Young followed with back-to-back spikes. The Bobcats held on from there.
Wabeno powered to a 23-15 cushion in the third set. Florence closed to 23-20 as Lauren Joerns and Emma Baumgart delivered kills and Keaghan Doda fired an ace. The Logrollers then managed two more points for the set.
"We needed to keep our hits going down," Drexler said. "That's when we win and that's what we did.
"The games we lost we didn't hit. We just had to keep hitting."
After Wabeno closed to 16-14 in the fourth set, Drexler notched a kill and Joerns fired an ace serve to lead the way.
In the fifth and deciding set, Florence owned a slim 13-12 advantage when Drexler knocked one down and Young punched the ticket to the sectional finals.
Florence served up 15 aces - four each from Joerns and Drexler and three from Doda.
"Our serving played a big part," Rochon said. "We had some really nice serves."
Sophomore Holly Spaude was a Wabeno standout with 15 kills and 25 assists. While the Bobcats served well, the Logrollers had 14 missed serves.
Don't expect Rochon to compile a detailed scouting report on Newman Catholic, a nemesis over the years for the Florence and Niagara girls basketball programs. With Division 4 volleyball, teams play their own game and take it from there.
"You're going to go with what you've got," Rochon said. "And you're either going to win with what you've got or lose with what you've got."
Added the veteran coach with a hearty laugh, "And I kind of like what I have."
Emma Baumgart - 3 spike kills, 3 block kills.
Keaghan Doda - 5 digs, 3 aces.
Morgan Walker - 3 spike kills, 1 dig, 1 ace.
Heather Marin - 1 spike kill, 1 dig.
Aly Young - 13 spike kills, 14 assists, 1 ace.
Lauren Joerns - 7 spike kills, 2 block kills, 15 assists, 4 aces.
Shannon Drexler - 15 spike kills, 4 aces, 100 percent serving.
Sarah Walstrom - 2 aces, 100 percent serving.
Holly Spaude - 15 kills, 25 assists, 2 ace serves.
Mesa Geiter - 20 kills, 17 assists, 3 ace serves.
Alisa Piontek - 3 ace serves.
Gloriann Waube - 6 kills, 2 ace serves.
Brielle Bodoh - 5 kills.
Stephanie Prasser - 4 kills.
Hali Nygard - 4 kills.