Catholic Central has bright future, coach says
By Jason Arndt
The Catholic Central girls volleyball team’s pursuit of a second consecutive WIAA Division 4 state title came to a screeching halt Nov. 9 when the Hilltoppers faced unbeaten Clear Lake at the Resch Center in Green Bay.
The top-seeded Warriors entered play boasting a 37-0 record, including a state semifinal win against No. 4 Newman Catholic, edged the Hilltoppers in three sets, 25-15, 25-17, 25-16.
Catholic Central head coach Wayne Schultz acknowledged Clear Lake would present a challenge for his Hilltoppers (29-11).
“Hats off to Clear Lake, they played tremendous volleyball today. They are a very deserving state champion. They didn’t lose a match all season,” Schultz said after the game. “They played great against us and we competed today. But we never quite got our rhythm going.”
“Their record speaks for itself,” Schultz said. “We knew we would have a big challenge today. Clear Lake has some great athletes. We knew they had some good outside hitters.”
Junior Sammie Seib, who broke a four-set Division 4 state record against Hillsboro Nov. 8, pitched in a team-leading 10 kills while adding eight digs.
Lainey Dirksmeyer, another junior, had six kills, 11 digs and a team best three service aces.
Katie Goethal, one of two seniors, accounted for five kills, committing only one attack error, along with one solo block for the Hilltoppers.
Juniors Ella Shaw, a setter, chipped in 21 assists while libero Grace Antlfinger had 13 digs.
Maggie Rosen (13 kills, two digs), Julianna Rosen (10 kills), Madison Zimmer (30 assists, 10 digs) and Lilyan Hacker (14 digs) were the contributors for Clear Lake.
Clear Lake coach Alicia Strilzuk attributed her team’s win to a hot start.
“We just came out on fire,” she said. “Once we took that first set, we knew we were going to win.”
End of an era
For Catholic Central, which has a strong youth movement, two seniors saw their careers end at the Resch Center.
Goethal and Izzy Phillips each played key leadership roles on the Hilltoppers, Schultz said.
“The seniors are always a huge part of the program, they put the work in through the years,” he said. “They were great leaders, hard workers because they set the tone in practice for us.”
Goethal sees her career with Catholic Central as a blessing, noting the team accomplished its objectives, like returning to the Resch Center after playing a competitive regular season.
“During our season, we played really hard competition all year,” Goethal said, adding the team faced larger schools regularly. “We had a lot of downfall, but those downfalls actually helped us become better players in general.”
Returning to the Resch Center, meanwhile, was an insane experience for Goethal and the rest of her team.
“Being at the Resch again was insane, we are all so blessed just walking in here and to go to the finals,” she said.
With just two departing seniors, the team brings back nearly its entire squad next season, which excites Schultz.
“I think the future is as bright as it can be,” he said.
For the full story along with additional coverage of Catholic Central’s state run, see the Nov. 14 edition of the Standard Press, which also includes a “Meet the Toppers” feature.