Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Girls Volleyball retrospective

from today's Waukesha Freeman --

An era ends at CMH
Four girls who played on varsity as freshmen to graduate with two straight state volleyball titles after runner-up finish
By Lee Fensin Freeman Staff

WAUKESHA – Sunday’s end-ofthe-year banquet was both joyous and sad for Ted Schulte.

Schulte, who finished his 19th year as head girls volleyball coach at Catholic Memorial High School on Saturday, said goodbye at the banquet to four seniors who have played on varsity for four years helping win two state Division 2 championships and a state runnerup finish during that time. “They invested a lot of time and work here and went out the right way,” said Schulte a day after Memorial overcame a sluggish start to beat Madison Edgewood 20-25, 25-18, 25-16, 26-24 for a second straight crown at the Resch Center in Green Bay. “They were a wonderful group to work with.”

When Patti Abshire, Kelli Browning, Aly Kujawa and Kate Acker took the floor as freshmen at Memorial, Schulte said, “I knew they were special. They were great natural talents and great competitors and I figured we had great opportunities,” Schulte said.

Abshire, Acker and Kujawa were starters as freshmen, and Abshire said, “I thought then that the four of us had a lot of potential. Because three of us ended up starting that year, we were making a big impact already and could do some good things in the future.” Winning back-to-back titles makes this one of the best groups in school history, but Schulte said with rule changes and position changes over the years, “It’s hard to make comparisons.”

Schulte said this year’s team was special not only because of the senior leadership, but became of the team balance and the lack of selfish behavior on the team. “We talked over the course of the summer a little bit about the legacy that players get to pass on,” Schulte said. “In one of the conversations, the question was asked, ‘Are you content with (winning state in 2009) or are you going to make the effort to win another? A lot of teams win one, but the truly great teams win two in a row or three in a row.”’

Although Schulte said this year’s squad was “one of the most complete teams I have ever coached,” it got off to a slow start Saturday after routing Waupun in Friday’s semifinals. “We were very, very tight,” Schulte said. “It was the first time all year they were tight. I think what was going on in their heads was: ‘If we lose today, everything we’ve done all year will be for naught.’ All of a sudden, all the success became a burden. At the same time, Edgewood came in very relaxed, very determined. They had nothing to lose and everything to gain, just the opposite than us.”

Schulte admitted to being tense himself at the beginning and was “loud and obnoxious” as the first game got away from his team. “I felt the tightness, too, and I didn’t know how to help them through it,” the 52-year-old Schulte said. “I told them the same thing happened in 2006 when I thought we were the better team. We lost the first game to Xavier, but got back on top of our game and won the next three. This year, Edgewood played great, but I told my players, ‘We know how to win, so let’s take care of our business.”’

Abshire, a libero, considers Schulte being “loud and obnoxious” as a motivator for the players. “When he’s yelling, it reminds us how dedicated he is and gets us to want to be more dedicated to making a positive play.” Abshire, who was back on the volleyball court Monday giving private lessons with an older sister, didn’t think she and her teammates were especially tight but admitted, “That first game was not our best showing.”

Memorial, 46-4 this season, went ahead 4-1 and 9-4 early in the second game as Edgewood, which played nearly error-free in the first game, began making mistakes. “I started to get the feeling that things were shifting back to us,” Schulte said. “We were playing much steadier. I don’t think we played remarkably well, but we played better.” After the third game played out much like the second, the fourth game was tied 20 times. “It was an absolute war,” Schulte said. “Edgewood had a lot of success running a middle attack, so I kept encouraging our middle blockers to get up earlier,” Schulte said.

Memorial was serving up 25-24 when, Schulte said, “Amanda Hansen got up early and blocked it right down. It was a nice way to end the match.” “Edgewood outhit us, but we outblocked them so it was fitting that the game ended on a block,” Schulte said. Abshire was on the bench at the end. “I remember I was having to squat off the chair because if was so nervous,” Abshire said. “When I saw (Hansen) jump, I said to myself, ‘She is blocking this and we are winning this.”

Kujawa had 11 kills in the match and Hansen, a junior, had nine. Junior Sara Connell had 24 assists and sophomore Rachel Murphy added nine, while Acker had 15 digs, Abshire 14 digs and Connell 11 digs. Browning had nine blocks. Abshire, Acker and Browning made the Division 2 all-tournament team selected by coaches. Hansen, Connell, Murphy, sophomore Aly Dawson and senior Greta Davis will be among next year’s returnees.

By then, Abshire will be off to college with some great high school memories. “I don’t like to think that I am no longer playing for Memorial,” Abshire said. “It is hard to come to terms with.”

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