GREEN BAY, Wis. – Burlington and head coach Teri Leach needed all five sets and a match-ending four-point run to reclaim the Division 1 throne Saturday evening, holding off River Falls 25-20, 25-15, 22-25, 17-25, 15-13 in a wild culmination of the 2017 WIAA State Tournament at the Resch Center.
It was the third state title for the Burlington program, and second straight trip to the title match for Leach. The Demons won titles in 2011 and 2012, earning second-place laurels in a 2016 loss to Neenah in the championship. Burlington has earned trips to the state tournament eight of the past nine seasons.
Sara Kealy’s Wildcats, unbeaten entering the state championship match, took home the program’s first state tournament hardware after getting bounced from its first quarterfinal berth by Sun Prairie in 2016.
Senior Abby Koenen paced the Demons with a match-high 26 kills, adding 10 digs for a double-double. Senior Brooklyn VandeHei added 10 kills and nine digs, while sophomore Kaley Blake dished out 51 assists. Blake also added 10 digs, second only to freshman Samantha Naber’s team-high 16 saves, and junior Maddie Berezowitz posted a match-high five service aces.
River Falls (43-1) had three players record double-digit kills, led by senior Marissa Stockman’s 19 on a blistering .536 attack percentage. Sophomores Halle Olson and Emily Bannitt added 18 and 13 kills, respectively, and senior Izzy Barr distributed a match-high 54 assists. Four Wildcats also recorded double-digit digs, led by Bannit’s 20 and Olson’s 14. Senior Sam Krueger added 12, and senior Elise Banitt picked up 11 digs as River Falls out-dug the Demons, 72-56.
Burlington (36-10) swept state tournament newcomer Mukwonago and head coach Alli Glisch in the quarterfinals, 25-22, 25-21, 25-19, before knocking off perennial powerhouse Divine Savior Holy Angels and head coach Caitie Ratkowski in the semis, 25-23, 16-25, 25-16, 25-16. Similarly, River Falls disposed of Kimberly and head coach Jeff Nieuwenhuis 25-21, 25-19, 25-10 on Thursday afternoon before surging past Michelle Bruss’ Oconomowoc squad, 26-24, 25-22, 22-25, 25-19, in the semifinals. Waunakee, another tournament newcomer led by Anne Denkert, and Greendale, guided by first-year head coach Kelly Schmidt, rounded out the quarterfinal field.
Kaley Blake, So., S, Burlington
Abby Koenen, Sr., OH, Burlington
Brooklyn VandeHei, Sr., OH, Burlington
Izzy Barr, Sr., S, River Falls
Marissa Stockman, Sr., MH, River Falls
Haley Multerer, Sr., MH, D.S.H.A.
Katy Kluge, Sr., OH, Oconomowoc
Annie Pulizos, Sr., MH, Greendale
Maggie Cartwright, Jr., OH, Kimberly
Mackenzie Vertz, Sr., S, Mukwonago
Milla Malik, So., OH, Waunakee