A SECOND WIND

There are many things Dee Huss loves about her St. Edmond volleyball team.

The most important one, though, has nothing to do with their physical ability.

Huss saw her Gaels advance to a Class 1A, Region 5 semifinal with a convincing 3-0 victory in their own gym here Monday night over Glidden-Ralston.

Scores were 25-21, 25-8 and 25-21.

St. Edmond (10-17 overall) will now meet long-time rival Bishop Garrigan (16-16) back here on Thursday night. The Golden Bears advanced with a 3-1 win over West Bend-Mallard.

After falling behind early and splitting the first 18 points, the Gaels put an incredible rally on the Wildcats (12-10), who had won eight of their last 10 entering the postseason.

“I just love our volleyball IQ,” Huss said. “These are smart girls and when they get on the court, that shows. We had a little trouble in the first set early on, but once we figured it out, everything really started clicking.

“We’ve played a very tough schedule, and I think this time of year, that shows. We’ve been tested against some of the best teams from around this area and now we get to showcase our skills.”

Senior Megan Flattery had nine kills, five aces and two blocks, while classmate Madi Engels added four kills. Junior Hannah Huss added nine kills, while 10th-grader Macey Mason contributed five aces.

“Megan took control in the first,” Huss said. “We were struggling a bit and she took over. That’s the kind of senior leadership you want to get out of someone like her. Along with Madi, they have done an excellent job of leading this team in practice and in matches.”

Glidden-Ralston led 10-9 when the Gaels put together a 10-2 run to take control of the first set. After the Wildcats stormed back with a six-point rally, it was SEHS with a seven-point swing.

Engels had the final point of the first, sending down a kill to give the Gaels momentum and confidence.

“It was really important for us to finish off that first set after getting a lead,” Huss said. “We’ve had some troubles this year closing sets, but the girls answered the call.”

Flattery had three aces in the first four points of the second, sending another message right away. St. Edmond built a 12-2 lead and were never threatened, tallying seven aces and seven kills in the second set.

The Wildcats, who started the year 0-5 after competing in the South Central Calhoun Invitational, received a bye in the first round of regionals. They went 12-4 over the final 16 matches of the year and showed their strength in the third, jumping out to a 7-0 lead.

“We knew they would make a run on us,” Huss said. “We struggled to adjust to the tip. This time of year, you have to be ready for anything. Teams use different techniques and the officials call matches much different in the postseason.”

St. Edmond regrouped and scored 14 of the next 18 points in the third. The two exchanged the lead and rallies until it was the Gaels posting an 8-2 run that gave them a 22-18 lead.

Erin Flattery had back-to-back aces and Huss recorded a kill, helping send the Gaels deeper into the postseason.

“It’s been great to play these first two matches at home,” Huss said. “Our crowd has been incredible. They have fired the girls up when they needed that extra boost.”

St. Edmond and Bishop Garrigan have met twice this year, splitting the two matches. The Golden Bears won in three at the SEHS Invite, while the Gaels rebounded with a 2-0 victory at the CYO.

The top-side of the regional features No. 1 Janesville, who advanced with a 3-0 win over AGWSR last night. They take on North Butler, a five-set survivor vs. Northwood-Kensett, on Thursday.

Winners from the two semifinals square off in Clarion next Tuesday for a state berth.