Volleyball: Wittenberg-Birnamwood wins CWC-East title

Chargers finish 6-0 in conference play
Morgan Rode
Sports Editor

WITTENBERG — The Wittenberg-Birnamwood High School volleyball team won the Central Wisconsin Conference-East Division title with a 25-19, 26-24, 25-14 sweep of Weyauwega-Fremont on Tuesday.

“It means a lot to me because this is a major goal we wanted to accomplish this season and I’m glad we did,” said senior Marissa Groshek. “We worked hard everyday and bettered ourselves at practice to get to this point. We worked on certain skills and always stayed focused.”

The victory capped a 6-0 run through conference play, with several individuals chipping in along the way to help the team achieve one of its season goals.

“When I think about being conference champs, its like just one step closer to all the goals we want to accomplish,” said Elizabeth Muscha. “Just to do it our senior year means so much to me. It makes it all the more special.”

Coming into the match knowing a win would secure a conference title, Witt-Birn came out determined and firing on all cylinders.

The Chargers jumped out to a 9-1 lead, with junior Abi Fraaza and freshman Reese Rogowski tallying multiple kills and Muscha and junior Amara Schoepke providing strong serving.

Weyauwega-Fremont didn’t make things easy, cutting the deficit to four multiple times and then down to three late in the set, but a Groshek kill, ace from senior Nicole Kielman and tip from junior McKenna Metropulos helped Witt-Birn finish off the set.

“Everyone was just like, ‘It’s now or never and if we want a new number up on the banner, we have to do it now.’ Not give them any more chances than they deserve so we came out strong right away,” said Fraaza.

The second set didn’t come as easily for Witt-Birn, as Weyauwega-Fremont took an early lead before building a six-point cushion, 17-11.

Wanting to prove to everyone they deserved to be the conference champions, the Chargers stormed back. A kill from Fraaza and block from senior Kaitlyn Clark got things going for Witt-Birn before Groshek chipped in a couple kills to whittle the deficit down.

Trailing 20-15, the Chargers went on a 7-0 run with Kielman serving to take the lead. Fraaza and Rogowski each tallied kills down the stretch, before a W-F attack error sealed the set.

Like it has all season, Witt-Birn had several players record attack kills on the night. Fraaza finished with a team-high 10 kills, while Rogowski had nine. Groshek, Clark and junior Emma Herb also had multiple attack kills on the night, with Metropulos setting them up.

“Having the hitters we have this year has been so much fun, to see the amount of effort all of them put in at practice and at games,” said Metropulos, who finished with 27 assists. “We all really play as a team this year and I can honestly say they are all my best friends and playing with a team of best friends makes winning conference so much more exciting.”

With the conference crown in sight, Witt-Birn surged out to a 5-0 lead in the third set, with Metropulos, Fraaza and Groshek all tallying points.

The visitors made a couple of pushes during the set, but strong serving from Muscha, Kielman and Schoepke helped the Chargers pull away for the win.

Muscha served the ball 19 times, adding three aces. Schoepke served 17 times and had two aces, while Kielman served 16 times and also had two aces.

Witt-Birn coach Becky Rew, who started coaching the team in 2017 — the last year the team won a conference title — said this year’s title meant a lot to her, having helped develop the upperclassmen that lead the team.

With one of the team’s goals now accomplished, the team can start focusing on another goal.

“Just make sure we are constantly improving from now until playoffs,” said Rew. “We have some big hopes for the playoffs and we have to make sure we keep improving every little step along the way.”

Witt-Birn will play in a tournament in Edgar this Saturday. The Chargers end the regular season with a road contest against Antigo on Oct. 17.