from today's Waukesha Freeman -
Catholic Memorial senior Danny Brozynski reacts as he is congratulated by junior Matt Murphy after Brozynski blocked a shot during a Classic 8 Conference match. Charles Auer/Freeman Staff
Long road getting to state
State quarters start Friday
WAUKESHA — All eight of the schools competing in the WIAA State Boys Volleyball Tournament are located within 110 miles of the tournament site, Wisconsin Lutheran College in Milwaukee.
The road trips for several of those participants will last no longer than a halfhour.
When the teams arrive for their quarterfinal matches Friday, though, Arrowhead High School will have traveled by far the longest route to get there.
The Warhawks not only ventured to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, to compete in the St. Vital Invite last month, but apparently took a three-day chemistry course during their international journey.“Since this trip, the team chemistry is the best I have ever seen as a coach in my four years,” Arrowhead assistant coach Dylan Guzewski said. “We have told these guys for three years now that if they work hard, they will get there. We have had a tough road for the past near-decade of taking down solid programs such as Nicolet, Germantown and Homestead.
“The hard work has finally paid off. I think Canada was a game-changer for us this year.”
The Warhawks (19-13) will meet Appleton North (25-6) in the fourth quarterfinal at 8 p.m. Friday. They will continue to rely on the versatility that has become a hallmark of their program.
“The boys work their tails off in season and out of season, but in season, we stress fundamentals and becoming overall volleyball players; not positions,” Guzewski said. “Everyone needs every skill to be on the court. “Working through the struggle of fixing and arm swing, eye work, platform or any technique takes time and patience, and the guys do a great job so we can be our best at the end of the season.”
Guzewski likes the Warhawks’ leadership core.
“Senior captains Joey Dittman and Luke Pitzo are our on- and off-the-court leaders, multiple-sport athletes and great examples to the underclassmen,” Guzewski said. “Junior Mitch Pralle did an excellent job during his six-and-a-halfweek recovery time from a hernia surgery at practice every day and as an example.”
Arrowhead swept Homestead 25-17, 25-18, 25-23 in its sectional final to earn its fifth state trip and its first since 2005.
“I like our chances if we play like we have been in these postseason games,” Guzewski said. “The boys have worked hard all year for this specific reason. They know to play Arrowhead volleyball, which is all based on serving and serve receive.”
Catholic Memorial has reached the state tourney for the 11th time and for the fifth consecutive season. The Crusaders (17-9) will play New Berlin West/Eisenhower (27-6) in a quarterfinal at 5:30 p.m. Friday.
CMH has relied upon the senior leadership of outside hitter Danny Brozynski, who has team highs of 283 kills and 51 aces, senior outside hitter Patrick Vandendriesche, who has 242 kills, and senior middle Aaron Siehr, who is second on the team with 22 solo blocks and 51 block assists.
Junior libero Matt Murphy leads CMH with 195 digs, senior setter Nick Potrzebowski paced the team with 470 assists, followed by junior setter Peter Aspenson with 369, and senior middle Grant Dakovich has a team-best 25 solo blocks and 59 block assists.
“Our three captains (Brozynski, Siehr and Vandendriessche) all started last year during the state tournament,” CMH co-coach Brad Mikulice said. “Danny also was a starter the prior year, when CMH also made it to state. All three of them are very mentally sound players, and you can tell that even under pressure, they remain calm and make good decisions on the court.
“Since state brings a new atmosphere with a louder crowd and more on the line, it will be great to have them in the game to keep the team headed in the right direction. Fortunately, they are not only clear leaders on this team, but they all have a different way of enforcing that leadership. They do it in a very respectful manner, and the whole team looks up to each of them, especially when we need to get going in games.”
The Crusaders know they are in for a first-round challenge.
“We have struggled in the past against our first round opponent, but we have been getting much better as the year goes on,” Mikulice said. “We haven’t played them yet in a situation where something big is on the line, so it will be interesting to see if that added element changes anything on either side.
“We are prepared to come out strong and play our game. At this point in the season, all eight teams have earned their spots in the tournament.”
New Berlin West/Eisenhower is making its third tournament appearance and its first since 2009, when it brought home the championship. The United outlasted Racine Horlick 25-16, 2225, 24-26, 29-27, 15-8 in the Racine Park Sectional final.
The United feature a veteran core including senior outside hitter John Collins from New Berlin West High School and four juniors from Eisenhower — setter Adam Campbell, opposite Quinn Farrell, outside hitter Matt Zeske and libero Stephen Kraininger.
“Our strength is our continuity,” United coach Jay Szatkowski said. “We’ve had the same core of guys for the last three years, and they’ve become a very close-knit team.
“Last year and this year especially, they’ve gained a realization and belief that we could get to state. We have a very difficult sectional, but the guys worked hard and made it a priority to do whatever it took to get to state.”
Farrell and Zeske have emerged as New Berlin’s kill leaders with 285 and 277, respectively. Campbell has 688 assists and 32 aces, Kraininger leads the team with 222 digs, Farrell has a team-high 51 blocks, and Zeske has contributed 25 aces.
“We lost to Appleton North and we lost one match to Middleton, but we’ve beaten everyone else in the state field, so we have the confidence that we can compete with anyone we play this weekend,” Szatkowski said.
Marquette, which won its seventh state title last season, will begin its 13th consecutive state appearance by meeting Wauwatosa East (15-15) at 12:30 p.m. Friday.
Burlington (16-11) will take on Middleton (24-7) in the 3 p.m. quarterfinal.