Sunday, August 29, 2010

Crusader Girls dominate at Milwaukee Joust

from today's JSOnline.Com --

Girls Volleyball
Catholic Memorial dominates at Milwaukee Joust
Crusaders win all seven matches in look ahead to girls volleyball season

Aug. 29, 2010

When we saw them last, Catholic Memorial's girls volleyball team was taking names, punishing foes and hoisting a WIAA Division 2 state championship.

By the looks of it, 2010 will be much of the same.

The Crusaders spent their Friday and Saturday at the 24-team, Milwaukee Lutheran / Thomas More Joust, an event many believe is better than the state tournament. When it ended, Catholic Memorial was back in the winner's circle, following a 25-19, 25-21 win over Division 1 power Menomonee Falls in the title match Saturday.

"I think our team showed a lot out here," said Crusaders senior middle hitter Kelli Browning. "We really came together over the two days, and I think it's going to be a great year."

It certainly appears that way.

The tournament featured seven of the 12 schools that made up the Division 1 and 2 state field last November, along with both champions. And for now, anyway, the Crusaders showed they're the class of Wisconsin.

Catholic Memorial won its seven matches. And while Westosha and Muskego took the Crusaders to a third game, Catholic Memorial responded in both matches with easy wins in the decisive game.

"Good volleyball is like a good jazz combo. You have to be in sync," Crusaders coach Ted Schulte said. "And there were a couple times we were a disorganized symphony. But the story for us is we responded and showed we want to be a good jazz combo."

What makes these Crusaders so difficult to face is their imposing size. Browning stands 6 feet 4 inches, junior middle hitter Amanda Hansen is 6-2, and starters Katie Acker, Alyssa Kujawa and Greta Davis are all pushing 6 feet.

"It's like they have eight girls on defense," Menomonee Falls coach Jason Bruns said. "They're just a great team. I'm glad they're in Division 2."

Catholic Memorial trailed the opening game of the title match, 15-13, before scoring 12 of the final 16 points. Acker rolled off six straight service points - thanks largely to a three kills from Browning and two by Davis - to help the Crusaders take a 20-15 lead they wouldn't relinquish.

Kujawa had two early kills in Game 2 as the Crusaders raced to a 9-4 lead. While the Indians hung tough, they never could come closer than two points. Finally on match point, Kujawa had a big kill to end things.

Davis finished with eight kills and six blocks in the title match, while Browning had six blocks and three kills. Acker had nine digs and five kills, and Nicole Welsh had a team-high 14 assists.

"It's still early and we've got a lot to work on yet," Schulte said. "But this definitely has a chance to be a special group."

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