The Rhinelander High School volleyball team was finally able to earn a set win over the Great Northern Conference powerhouse, Medford on Thursday in the WIAA Division 2 regional quarterfinal match at Raider Hall. But they Hodags were unable to keep that momentum and fell 3-1 to the Raiders to close their 2016 season.
Rhinelander dropped a close first set 25-21 before rallying back to take the second set from Medford 25-23. The Raiders would than take the third set in a convincing 25-9 set and sealed the deal with a 25-17 fourth set win.
Despite the Hodags only leading once in the first set, it was a very competitive set and RHS pulled with one point at 21-20. But the Raiders rallied for four straight points including three kills from Sophia Pernsteiner to give Medford a 25-21 win.
In the highlight of the match, Rhinelander was able to secure a two point second set win over the Raiders. It also marked the Hodags first set win over Medford in two years. Both teams battled back and forth throughout the set and were tied over half the set.
It looked as if the Raiders would pull through with another set win as they held at 23-21 lead. But Tori Lammar missed a served followed but a Medford attacking errors, gave the Hodags another chance and they took full advantage. Hope Wissbroecker notched back to back kills to help Rhinelander take the second set 25-23.
But the win did not sit well with the Raiders, who completely controlled the third set and raced out to a 20-4 advantage and closed with a 16-point win at 25-9 over the Hodags.
With Medford taking a 2-1 lead in the match, Rhinelander did not want to see their season come to an end and rallied to stick with the GNC champions. The Raiders held a 17-16 lead and would close the match with an 8-1 run and earned a 3-1 regional victory.
Wissbroecker led the Hodags attack and finished the night with 13 kills. Senior Kaly Kostrova charted eight kills. And Maddie Meyer chipped in five kills.
Senior Lindsay Juedes was perfect from the service line and went 13-13, including an ace. Setter Ally Seefeldt recorded 23 assists. And Rhinelander's defense was led by libero Stephanie Kuester and Kostrova, who each charted 26 digs.
Rhinelander had four seniors on their varsity roster, which included Juedes, Kostrova, Lauryn Cook, and Sarah Brooks. Coach Kathy Wawrzynowicz and the 2016 Hodags finished the year 15-21-3 overall and was 3-9 in the GNC standings.
The Rhinelander High School volleyball team finished .500 at 5-5 in the Wausau-West Invitational on Saturday which included six teams.
The Invite was played in two sets per round, with no third set regardless of splitting 1-1 series. The Hodags would win one round, lose one round, and split three rounds on the day and finished fourth overall with a 5-5 record.
Rhinelander started the day strong with sweeping Pittsville in a convincing matter. The Hodags would start with a 25-13 win and followed it up with a 25-16 victory. In the second round against Regis, RHS appeared to be in route to another sweep but couldn't fend off a late first set rally.
After the Hodags gained an early 19-13 advantage, but the Ramblers rallied for a 12-1 run to steal the first set 25-20. Rhinelander would not let that happen again and pulled through with a 25-23 second set win to split sets with Regis.
RHS faced Neillsville in the fourth round of action and struggled in the first set and fell 25-12. But the Hodags woke up in the second set and turned the tables to claim the second set 25-14.
In the afternoon rounds, the Hodags started against fellow Great Northern Conference opponent Northland Pines and would drop two close sets. RHS started strong and raced out to a 5-0 lead with the help of two aces from setter Ally Seefeldt. Their lead quickly diminished after the Eagles went on a 10–3 run to take their first lead 11-10.
The Hodags would fall behind even more after back-to-back attacking errors, giving Pines a three point advantage and their largest lead o the set. Kaly Kostrova and Lindsay Juedes connected on outside kills to bring RHS back and tie the set at 14-14. Hope Wissbroecker than had an outside kill, followed by a middle block to give Rhinelander a 18-16 lead.
It was back and forth from there, with the set tied at 24-24. The Hodags had another attacking error to put the Eagles up by one, but on the set point Kostrova kept RHS alive with an outside tip. On a communication error, Pines let a second hit drop to give Rhinelander a one point advantage. But Lexi Smith would have an outside kill to even the score to 26-26.
Wissbroecker than had an outside hit that appeared to be tipped from Pines but the point was awarded to the Eagles when the ball sailed out, giving them a 28-27 lead. Smith would seal the deal for Northland Pines with a middle kill, handing RHS a 27-29 loss.
The Eagles would carry that momentum into the second set and started with a 2-0 lead but Juedes put the Hodags on the board with an outside kill. Kostrova followed that up with an ace before Pines would go on a 10-2 run to take a 13-5 lead. RHS caught a break when Smith hit an outside attempt into the net.
Stephanie Kuester had an ace to help spark Rhinelander back, along with an outside kill from Juedes to pull the Hodags within four at 10-14. Both teams had several errors down the stretch, but Pines finish on a 6-2 run to take the second 25-17.
In the final round of the day, Rhinelander faced host Wausau West who went undefeated in the first four rounds of action. The Hodags handed the Warriors four early points off service errors and they were an able to recover from there. Sophomore Paige Brandenburg finished with six kills and an ace to help give West a 25-18 first set win.
But RHS would finish the invite with a consistent set over West which included four aces as well as limiting their errors. The Hodags would use a 4-1 run in the final stretch to close with a 25-17 win, which included Makayla Kuester with the final point on an ace.
Full stats were not provided for the invite, but unofficially in the last two rounds, Wissbroecker would lead the Hodags with 12 kills as well as eight digs. Stephanie Kuester led the defense with 16 digs. Seefeldt would add 26 assists in the final four sets.
Kostrova finished with seven kills while Juedes had five. Wissbroecker, Kostrova, and Seefeldt each recorded two aces each.
Rhinelander finished their regular season 15-20-3 overall and went 3-9 in the Great Northern Conference. The Hodags will face Medford in the Division 2 regionals on Tuesday on the road. RHS has faced the Raiders three times this season and have not be able to win over Medford, the GNC champions who went undefeated in conference play.
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