Merrill volleyball’s impressive 2016 campaign came to a close Friday with a 3-0 loss in the state semifinals to two-time defending state champion, Catholic Memorial High School. The Bluejays were one of only four Division 2 teams – and the only public school among that field – to make it to the big show at the Resch Center in Green Bay.
They faced a tall order in the semifinal match against Catholic Memorial. After trading points early in the first set, the Crusaders went on a run to go up 9-3. Merrill battled back to draw within 2 at 10-8, but the margin widened from there as Catholic Memorial took the first set 25-15.
In the second set, the Crusaders showed why they’ve dominated D2 as of late, displaying offensive weapons and digging out just about everything the Bluejays could fire at them. CMHS built a lead of 17-9 before scoring the last 8 points unanswered for a 25-9 victory.
Facing a two-set deficit, the Merrill girls came out swinging in the third set. But, again, the Crusaders had an answer to almost everything while building a 22-10 lead. Merrill pulled off some late runs to narrow the gap, but still ended up on the short end of a 25-18 third set score.
“We knew it was going to be a tough match going in to today,” said Bluejays coach Kristi Krug. “I felt like we just never consistently got an offense running. Our defense struggled to keep up with the pace of their offense.”
The Merrill High School girls volleyball team accomplished a lot this year. Playing against mostly Division 1 competition, they placed second in the Wisconsin Valley Conference. They won their Division 2 regional, and then secured a state berth with a five-set win over Bloomer in the sectional finals.
“We are so proud of the season this team put together,” Krug said. “They are a class act of athletes that worked together to reach their goals as a team! We represented our community well this year.”
The Bluejay fans traveled well, filling their allotted section of the Resch Center and cheering on their team. Following the match, the volleyball team led the Merrill fans in a school cheer before departing the arena.