The final regular season home match for the eight seniors on the New Richmond volleyball team will be one they will never forget.
After starting slowly in Tuesday’s dual match against Amery, the Tigers kept battling back, forcing the match to a fifth set. The Tigers never led in the deciding set until the final points, using a dramatic comeback to upend the Amery Warriors 15-13 in the final set.
The Tiger players spilled onto the court in an emotional celebration following the victory. In an emotion-packed evening, the Tiger players and fans ended the night with a celebration filled with hugs and photos.
The emotion of the pre-game Senior Night celebration clearly carried into the opening set, because the Tigers’ play was scattered at best. The Tigers were shaky from the start and lost 25-18. Tiger coach Al Getschel saw the struggles right away. He got every player onto the court during the set. That had a dual effect. It allowed all of the girls to settle their nerves and it gave the coaches a chance to see which girls were playing the best.
The second set started evenly. The Tigers then began to establish a hitting attack, particularly middle hitter Audrey Feuerer, to build a 16-12 lead. Then a span of bad passes hurt the Tigers, and Amery pulled ahead 18-17.
Getschel then made a substitution that paid dividends the rest of the night. Senior Jade Berget was inserted to serve and she reeled off five straight points, including two aces. Feuerer finished with a strong flurry at the net and the Tigers had a 25-20 win.
The first half of the third set was played evenly. The Tigers then had a stretch of mishits that put them behind 18-13. Fueled by some excellent saves from libero Abbie Blaszczyk the Tigers tried to come back, but lost 25-18.
The Tigers showed some fight in the fourth set. They held a slim lead until Ashley Patten took the serve. She strung together eight difficult serves and the Tigers suddenly had a 19-8 lead. The Tigers finished with a 25-15 win with Brittany Emmerich scoring a kill for the final point.
The thoughts that the momentum from that win would carry into the fifth set were snuffed out immediately as Amery jumped to a 3-0 lead. The Tigers have been through so many ups and downs this season that this didn’t deter them. They kept the score close, but Amery led 12-9. The Tigers finished with a charge that had their fans rocking the gym. With kills from Feuerer and Mandy Dolezal the Tigers fought back. Feuerer notched the kill on the deciding point, setting off the Tigers’ victory celebration.
Getschel said he didn’t know what to expect at the start of the match, knowing the Senior Night event might have an effect.
“They tend to wear their emotions on their sleeves,” he said.
He said getting through the difficult start helped get the team grounded. He said the team’s hitters tend to do better as a match progresses, so he had confidence the attack would get rolling. Passing and serving were a more challenging issue, which is where Berget gave the team exactly what it needed.
“Jade served extremely well and played good defense too,” Getschel said.
Leah DeYoung and Feuerer led the Tigers' attack as the middle hitters, combining on 22 killls. Patten contributed 33 assists, five aces and six digs. Dolezal delivered with seven kills, five digs and she didn't have any serve receive errors.
The Tigers will compete in Division 1 in the WIAA tournament season. The seeding meeting for the regional Division 1 tournament bracket is scheduled to be completed on Wednesday. The tournaments begin on Thursday, Oct. 24.