The Merrill girls volleyball team is in the final four of the Division 2 state tournament. They will take the court at the Resch Center in Green Bay this afternoon at 4 p.m in the semi-final match against two-time defending state champion Catholic Memorial.
Catholic Memorial makes its third straight appearance and its ninth overall. The Crusaders have won six championships, among them were three consecutive titles from 2009-2011. They also won the championship in 2006, 2014 and again last year. They also advanced to the final and finished runner-up in 2008. The Crusaders defeated Kettle Moraine Lutheran in three sets in the final of the Whitnall Sectional to earn the chance at another title. They are the champions in the Classic Eight Conference this season.
Merrill will make its eighth appearance at State and its second in the last three years. The Bluejays’ furthest advance in the tournament was to the semifinals in Division 1 in 2012. Their first five experiences came in the 1970s and early 1980s with the pool play format. The Bluejays’ State berth comes virtue of their five-set win over Bloomer in the Rice Lake Sectional final. They placed second in the Wisconsin Valley Conference this year.
On the other side of the bracket, Notre Dame will face off against Lakeside Lutheran.
Notre Dame has qualified for the State Tournament for the second time after making its first-ever appearance last season, which resulted in a loss in the semifinals. The Tritons return to the State semifinals follows a four-set victory over Little Chute in the Seymour Sectional final. They are the champions in the Fox River Classic Conference this season.
Lakeside Lutheran will experience the State Tournament for the first time since its only other appearance in 2000, the year the Spartans joined the membership. They placed runner-up in Division 3 that season. The Warriors defeated Mount Horeb in four sets in the final of the McFarland Sectional. During the regular season, they placed first in the North Division of the Capitol Conference.
The winners of the two semi-final matches today will face each other tomorrow afternoon at 2 p.m. in the championship match.
The single-elimination tournament features matches with a best-of-five-sets, rally-scoring format. Eight teams will play for the State title in Division 1, with four teams still in contention for the State crown in Divisions 2, 3 and 4.
Other area teams appearing in the state tournament are Athens in Division 3 and Newman Catholic in Division 4.
Merrill’s state tournament matches will be broadcast live on 100.5 FM.