Badger South volleyball: Balanced Goslings serve notice, sweep Milton to open title defense
If the Goslings can play with this kind of balance consistently, they can do a lot more than just win the Badger South again.
Junior setter Isabelle Schauer spread her 36 assists around to multiple options as Watertown swept Milton in the conference opener 25-15, 25-19, 25-20 on Thursday night at Watertown High School.
Sophomore right side Alaina Westenberg had 14 kills, junior outside hitter Samantha Gray added 10 and senior outside hitter Allie Stair added eight kills and 10 digs as the defending league champions served notice against the team many expected to be their primary challenger going into this season.
Serving, passing and blocking were all on point as well. Senior libero Sheridan Dettmann led in digs with 12 and senior defensive specialist Payton Zubke added eight. Dettmann and Schauer each served two aces. Senior middle Ashley Stas led in blocks with six while senior middle and outside hitter Bri Korducki added three.
“Our team is amazing with all the options that we have,” Schauer said. “Our team is so diverse. So many people can be put in so many different places. It’s a setter’s dream, honestly.”
It was a dream start to conference play for first year head coach Carrie Hein as well.
“We’ve been working on continuing to use all of our skill set and all of our hitters because we have so much depth and so many strong hitters at so many positions,” Hein said. “That was our plan from the get-go was to mix it up. It throws the other team off and we just proved that tonight. They just didn’t know where we were going with the ball and we were successful wherever we put it, which was just fantastic.
From the passing, to Izzy’s setting, and Dani (Weissenrieder), those few sets she took as well, to the hitters just executing where the ball is delivered. I couldn’t ask for anything else. It was great.”
Watertown cruised through its first Badger South campaign a year ago with a perfect 7-0 record. Milton was the next closest team at 6-1, with every other team finishing below .500. The two teams had good battles in their summer league, and once again they opened the Badger South slate against one another.
“We obviously didn’t have as much practice as we did before, but we’ve been focused on this game since day one,” Schauer said. “I think we executed the things that we did in practice very well. I think that’s what really worked for us and what won us this game.”
In each set, Watertown played with the lead by the time the scoring reached double digits and never lost it. The Goslings opened up a 10-point lead in the first set with Stair, Gray, Korducki and Westenberg all finishing passes in system.
Stair was effective early and stayed that way throughout the match, whether it was hitting with pace or off-speed.
“She is a such a strong player, one of those where I truly feel safe wherever I put her,” Hein said. “Fantastic back row player. We saw that at the invite on Tuesday. She had over 40 kills on the day. She can dig just about any ball in the back row. She’s a decent hitter as well. She listened to her teammates. When we called seams, she hit them. When we called line, she hit them.”
Each time the Red Hawks pulled close, the Gosling found different players to put the ball away.
Korducki, the team’s top returning kills leader, wasn’t the focal point of the offense on this night but still put away quick passes as part of the balanced attack. Gray’s vertical leap and hang time led to several putaways. Westenberg showed off a strong arm. Stas accounted for four points in the third set to help the Goslings close this one out.
“It was an overall awesome team effort,” Hein said. “The girls were telling each other what’s open and their teammates were receptive and responded. We just executed the plan we had beautifully.”
Milton had good length with outside hitters Chloe Buescher and Ashley Didelot and middle Courtney Knutson. Setter Jordan Karlen was a dangerous server. They battled respectably with court coverage and hurt the Goslings with their blocking when the serves were good.
But the Red Hawks struggled to get in system with any consistency due to passing struggles. Watertown won the battles at the service line and in serve-receive.
Milton fell behind 10-3 to start the second set but rallied to tie it at 17-17. But the Red Hawks served the next ball into the net and the Goslings closed on an 8-2 run. With her team clinging to a 20-19 lead, Schauer served out the last five points with aggressive serving to the Zone 5 corner.
“We practice serving a lot,” Schauer said. “We consider serve and serve-receive one of the most important parts of the game. When we executed that, that’s what won the game. Once you have the serve and the serve-receive, you’re basically rolling.”
Hein gave her team high marks on that score as well.
“Our serving was pretty solid,” Hein said. “We still have to work on a few things. We served a few long, but otherwise, our serving was good. Our serve-receive was the best so far this season, easily. That’s something we’ve been working hard on is improving serve-receive, because games can be won with that. The girls stepped up and were ready for battle tonight.
“Milton is a tough squad. They’ve got some real nice players over there. They definitely are a strong team. Because of how we played them this summer, we knew they were going to be a strong team. We prepped. We knew where their strong points were going to be, where their hitters are and we placed our defense where we needed to be in order to stop that.
“Having the big right side block with Alaina, kudos to Alaina. She had the best game I’ve seen her play thus far with her blocking, her swings. She led the team with 14 hitting kills. Having our players execute that plan made it a super successful night for us. Super exciting. I know the girls are super pumped. I can see us moving forward and continuing to climb.
“As long as girls hold themselves accountable, we’ll be fine.”
Watertown competes at the Sun Prairie Invitational today and Saturday.
JV wins, JV2 falls: Watertown’s junior varsity won 25-17, 25-18, 23-25. Watertown’s JV2 team lost 23-25, 20-25, 19-25.