Oconto Falls volleyball team shows resiliency in pair of wins

Panthers pick up conference wins over Waupaca, Little Chute
Morgan Rode
Sports Editor

The Oconto Falls High School volleyball team shrugged off a slow start and rallied for a North Eastern Conference win in four sets over Waupaca on Thursday in Oconto Falls.

Oconto Falls dropped the first set to Waupaca 25-23, but bounced back to win the next three sets by scores of 25-18, 25-16, 25-23. It was the second straight match the Panthers have had to dig deep to come out victorious after a tight 25-23, 21-25, 25-23, 25-18 win over Little Chute on Tuesday in Oconto Falls.

The Panthers used a balanced attack to get the job done in both matches, with seniors Jayden Arndt, Amelia Rice and Laikyn St. Louis and junior Emmie Magnin leading the way. Sophomore Hanna Krejcarek set her teammates up.

After dropping the first four points against Waupaca and eventually going down six in the first set, Rice helped get the hosts back on track with three kills during a 4-0 run.

But the visiting Comets were able to respond with a surge, this time creating a seven-point advantage. The Panthers again rallied, eventually taking a 23-22 lead before Waupaca won three straight points to take the set.

Despite coming up short in the set, the late surge helped Oconto Falls gather momentum for the rest of the match.

“We ended on a positive note. Volleyball is all about momentum. We ended up getting the momentum and carried it into the second set,” said Oconto Falls coach Rochell Otto. “These girls are resilient, they came back strong and really took it to them.”

St. Louis, Magnin, Rice and Arndt helped the Panthers build a comfortable lead in the second set with attack and block kills and the hosts were able to fend off a couple Waupaca pushes to tie the match up.

The Panthers continued their balanced attack in the third set, with Magnin helping the team to a sizable lead and Arndt, St. Louis and Rice helping finish off the set.

“Once we got going, we really just carried it away,” said Rice. “In the beginning, we were kind of slow, but once we got the momentum we started getting our passes there and putting the ball away, which is what we needed.”

“It’s so important,” said Magnin of multiple players contributing. “You can’t have one failing part of your team. You have to all work together as a team, all work hard to push through every play.”

Oconto Falls worked out to another lead early in the fourth set, but Waupaca battled with the match on the line, making the Panthers work a bit harder to try and finish it off.

Tied at 22, Arndt had back-to-back kills to bring the hosts within a point of victory, but Waupaca won the next point. The Panthers put an end to Waupaca’s hopes of stealing the set when St. Louis delivered the game-winning kill.

St. Louis finished with eight attack kills for the match, while Rice led the team with 16. Arndt chipped in with 13 kills and Magnin had 10. Magnin and Arndt each had three blocks.

Senior Abbi Remic and Krejcarek had 14 digs each, while sophomore Quinn Eisch had 13. Krejcarek led the team with 40 assists.

In its four-set win over Little Chute, Magnin led the Panthers with 20 attack kills, while Rice had 13, St. Louis 12 and Arndt 11. Rice and Arndt each had two total blocks.

Krejcarek assisted on 51 of team’s 60 kills. Junior Karlie Kowalczyk led the team with 22 digs, while Remic had 17 digs and three aces. Eisch and Rice added 13 and 11 digs, respectively.