The Rhinelander Lady Hodags looked to continue their postseason roll after dismantling the River Falls Wildcats 3-1 on Thursday night. Up next for the Hodags was the Eau Claire North Huskies on Saturday in the regional final. Despite pushing the Huskies to the brink of elimination, Eau Claire rallied to defeat the Hodags in five games (25-22, 20-25, 25-14, 28-25, 6-15).
Taylor Wissbroecker and Katie Berrell once again led the Hodags in kills, with 13 and 21 respectively. Lindsay Berrell showcased great court motion and awareness, notching 44 assists. The sisters Lexi and Megan Haug combined for 33 digs (17 and 16), and Brianna Gilbert had five key blocks.
“It’s not how we wanted it to end,” explained volleyball coach Kathy Wawrzynowicz. “It stings because we played so well for those three games, but I told the girls that we had a great season and to keep their heads held high. We accomplished more than most volleyball teams in Rhinelander so far and to have a record of 37-7 is a huge accomplishment. We also had two huge tournament wins and took the conference championship. You can’t be upset about this year.”
Despite the disappointing finish, one cannot forget the incredible feats accomplished by the Hodags throughout this season. Not only did they post a record of 37-7, but they captured the program’s first-ever conference championship, outdueling the GNC to finish with a conference record of 11-1.
Consistency and teamwork were shown throughout the season, as it seemed each girl knew what she had to accomplish to help lead the team to victory. Megan and Lexi Haug can be remembered for hustling all over the court, giving their team second chances and providing pinpoint passing to their teammates. Lindsay Berrell setting up on point volleys, prompting Katie Berrell and Taylor Wissbroecker sent kills crashing to the floor. This season will undoubtedly be remembered for many years.
While several outstanding players such as Taylor Wissbroecker and Lindsay Berrell are exiting following their senior seasons, this Hodag team is incredibly deep. This will help the squad build on their success going towards the future. Katie Berrell and Lexi Haug will return to lead what could potentially be another dominant senior class, where players such as Megan Haug and Brianna Gilbert will have to continue to grow and become larger factors for this team.
“The success of this year, it just makes us want even more,” said RHS junior Katie Berrell. “We accomplished so many things and helped add so much to the program, but we are not satisfied. We want to keep working and come back next year and do it all again. We are hungry for more success, and we have the talent to accomplish that.”
In short, the entire season is one to remember for our Lady Hodags. Breathing new life into a program, this team was statistically and literally dominant throughout the entire year. Capturing the first conference championship in program history, along with advancing to the postseason, this year’s squad of talented girls has helped make Hodag volleyball a name to fear.
With so much talent continuing to grow into next season, there is a bright future ahead for Hodag volleyball.