The way the Hatchet volleyball team devoured its two sectional opponents reminded one of six-year-old kids demolishing their short-lived stockpile of Halloween candy.
A pair of 3-0 triumphs means Tomahawk is just one of four teams alive in the state in Division 2, putting the girls in the big show at the UW-Green Bay Resch Center for the third consecutive year.
Reaching the WIAA State Tournament was unquestionably a goal of the team, but their aspirations don’t end there.
“We can’t and aren’t satisfied with simply making it to Green Bay,” THS coach Jen Pfannerstill said. “We have to make the most of our opportunity and are in a good position, both mentally and physically, to have a great match in Green Bay.
“We have players who have the experience of playing there and they will need to share, as they’ve done all season, what it’s like to be a part of the ride. I’m certain they will continue to be leaders throughout the week.
“The underclassmen, as they’ve done all season, will listen and learn, and we will go into Green Bay with a game plan that, if we play to the best of our ability, will put us in a position to compete.”
Tomahawk (37-9) will open state action with Oconto Falls (45-6) at 4:00 p.m. on Friday. The winner of the match will reach Saturday’s state finals, facing off with the victor of Friday’s match between Big Foot (40-4) and Catholic Memorial (44-6).
Saturday’s D2 finals will be played at 3:00 p.m.
The Hatchets have not competed against any of the state-qualifying squads this year, but lost in the semis to two-time defending champion Catholic Memorial in 2009. Madison Edgewood knocked THS out in 2010 before losing to Memorial.
The girls trekked all the way to New Richmond, just north of Hudson, for last Saturday’s WIAA sectional final with Altoona.
They rode the Railroaders out of town on a, well, rail, with game scores of 25-17, 25-8, 25-21.
“We started off really aggressive once again,” Pfannerstill said. “All year we have been fast starters in Game 1 and that trend continued.
“Our hitters were getting touches on balls right away and we were able to shut down Altoona’s setter when she wanted to be aggressive. That was really important from the start. We also set up a very effective block against their outside hitters, and since they weren’t passing very well, this was where they needed to set the ball.
“Once Altoona’s outside hitters got blocked a few times, we forced them to be tentative on offense, they sent us free balls and roll shots, and we were able to run our offense, thanks to our super passing. Our passers were very, very solid.
“In game 2, we spoke of the let up we had had on Thursday night, and knew we couldn’t get away with it again. To the girls’ credit, they came out and shut Altoona down in game 2, 25-8. It was an impressive set, probably our best offensively of the year.
“The whole match was very solid for us, and I was pleased with the focus and effort for the whole time. It was just a night where we executed our game plan very effectively and exactly what we wanted to happen, happened.”
Coming through for the Hatchets were: Anna Sudbury (32 as, 7 d); Kellan Flynn (10 k, 8 bl); Anna Nyberg (9 k, 6 d); Alex DuPlayee (9 k, 4 d, 2 bl); Kelsey Paramore (3 ac, 9 d); Hanna Doughty (6 k, 5 bl); and Amanda Schneider (5 d).
The Hatchets hosted Medford on Thursday in the teams’ third meeting of the season. As in the previous two, Tomahawk turned in a 3-0 performance. Tallies of 25-13, 25-22 and 25-20 defined the sectional semi-final match.
“We really started out strong and took control of the net,” Pfannerstill said. “Medford struggled with hitting errors and we were able to run our offensive very efficiently off of serve receive. The first game was really clean on our side of the net, but the second set we had a let up. We just didn’t stay as aggressive and were content to sit just a few points ahead of them, or even, thinking we could step it up at the end. The girls did do that, but we need to work on shutting teams down in game 2 after we win that first game.”
Pfannerstill gave the home crowd big kudos on its support.
“It was a great way for the seniors to end their home schedule, finishing by earning a berth in their third sectional final match on Saturday,” she said. “The fans at the fieldhouse were phenomenal all year long and did a super job of being positive fans. We always had a packed house and we really, really appreciate the incredible home support by the community. The Fieldhouse truly is a home-court advantage.”
Powering the home match triumph were: Sudbury (3 k, 30 as, 12 d); Paramore (23 d); DuPlayee (12 k, 7 d); Nyberg (4 k, 3 ac, 8 d); Flynn (7 k, 5 bl); Kayli Ogstad (6 k, 2 bl); Doughty (3 k, 3 bl); and Schneider (5 d).