By BURT ANGELI
FLORENCE, Wis. - Goodman-Pembine sent Florence and Coach Trudy Rochon to an early retirement Saturday.
Burt Angeli/The Daily News Photos
Florence’s Kristen Schroeder digs up a serve while Aubree Dumke (14) and Jessica Glime (20) look on during Saturday’s final.
The unflinching Patriots, on the cusp of being swept, rallied to beat the host Bobcats 3-2 (24-26, 17-25, 25-21, 25-9, 15-12) in a WIAA Division 4 volleyball regional championship.
Goodman-Pembine (21-4) advances to the sectionals Thursday, taking on Suring from the M&O Conference at Gillett. For Rochon, she confirmed her departure from coaching.
"This is my last game, I'm retiring," the longtime Bobcats coach said after exchanging hugs with what seemed like everyone in the crowd. "To end it in my own gym is hard.
"I told Ashley (Patriots coach Kalkofen) before we started this is going to be a game that both teams deserve to be regional champions."
Florence (21-13) appeared to be headed for its third sectional visit in the past six years. Goodman-Pembine, down 2-0 in the match, trailed 17-11 in the third set.
"I told them it was all or nothing," said Kalkofen when asked what she told her team at crunch time. "You want it or you don't? Prove to me that you are sectional material.
"What a great night. I'm so proud of the girls."
Kalkofen and senior middle hitter Rachel Stankevich didn't sweat the 2-0 deficit - they've been there before.
"Actually, we're pretty used to that (0-2)," Stankevich said with a laugh. "That's happened a few times. But we just told each other that we had to pick it up.
"We had to come back together. We had to push through it and it worked for us."
Noted Kalkofen, "We have learned through the season how to come back from two losses and that worked to our advantage."
Credit Florence for persevering with middle hitter Emma Baumgart hobbled by an ankle sprain suffered late in the first set. The senior was helped off with the Bobcats leading 22-18.
The Patriots, with Courtney Goyak dominating the net with three straight spikes, pulled ahead 24-22. Baumgart returned with a taped ankle to put away two balls including the set winner.
"Once Emma sprained her ankle something was not in sync," Rochon said. "She was playing as well as she could play with her ankle hurting."
Florence collected the second set and owned the third set with consecutive kills from Jessica Glime. Goodman-Pembine then began chipping away at a 17-11 deficit, with a Stankevich slam putting the first-year co-op ahead 20-19.
A kill from Kayleigh Betka and block from Goyak gave the Patriots their first set.
The fourth set was an early knockout, with the Patriots romping to a 20-5 cushion.
"We were not tired in that fourth game," Kalkofen said.
Florence took a 2-0 lead in the deciding fifth set but net-guarding Gabby Johnson provided two straight points for a 3-3 draw. Erin Walker's three kills and two from Aly Young triggered the Bobcats to an 11-8 advantage.
Stankevich, in perhaps the play of the match, moved several steps down the net line to knuckle the ball over for a 12-11 edge.
Glime delivered the tying point at 12 but Stankevich answered with two more kills and Miranda Kelly's ace serve lifted the Patriots to the sectional.
"Both of us have amazing teams that wanted it so bad," Kalkofen said. "Of course, you could see it in their eyes. But it felt good to have our turn."
Florence, vulnerable to the tip, was exposed by Goodman-Pembine.
"As soon as we moved in to cover the tip, then they would hit it hard," Rochon said. "That was just smart play on their part, smart coaching on Ashley's part."
The Bobcats beat the Patriots twice during the regular season. Hit placement and different coverage made a difference.
"The last time we played Florence we didn't push to their back row," Stankevich said. "This game we saw those holes. Coach said to pound those back corners."
Goyak tallied a team-high 16 kills and Stankevich had 12. Marissa Maloney posted 56 assists and Britney Stepien had 20. Kelly produced four of the Patriots' 10 ace serves.
"Three's a charm," Kalkofen said of meeting and beating the Bobcats in the third match of the year. "They figured out what they had to do and they did it.
"We just tightened up on coverage. That was the big thing. We had a hard time at first with what they were doing."
Young tallied 17 kills and Baumgart came through with 14.
"I knew that going in it was going to be a great match," Rochon said. "Unfortunately, we had to beat each other.
"My girls kept playing and left it all on the floor."
Performance summary follows:
Kayleigh Betka - 6 kills; Rachel Stankevich - 12 kills, 4 solo blocks; Courtney Goyak - 16 kills, 11 block assist, 2 solo blocks; Marissa Moloney - 57 set assists, 2 kills; Miranda Kelly - 3 kills, 4 aces; Gabrielle Johnson - 4 kills.
Emma Baumgart - 14 kills, 1 dig, 1 ace; Keaghan Doda - 8 assists, 1 dig, 1 ace, 100 percent serving; Erin Walker - 7 kills, 2 digs, 1 ace; Aubree Dumke - 1 kill; Jessica Glime - 4 kills, 2 digs, 2 aces; Aly Young - 17 kills, 9 assists, 1 dig, 100 percent serving; Kristen Schroeder - 3 kills, 2 aces, 100 percent serving; Rhianon Franklin - 1 kill.