Going up against a state runner-up from last year turned out to be too tall of an order for the Waupaca Comet volleyball team.
Appleton Xavier took all three games Sept. 2 in the Eastern Valley Conference matchup 25-15, 25-16-25-14.
The Comets also placed second Aug. 31 at the Bonduel Invitational.
Taylor Grenlie finished with 15 digs for Waupaca, Kristen Fuss and Carli Navin added 14 digs and five kills, Meghan Plunkett had 11 assists and Hannah Butkiewicz made three blocks.
“We knew it was going to be tough,” coach Tina Grenlie said. “We talked about that fact that we really needed to be ready right away. Sometimes, we tend to come out a little slow and work into our rhythm. It took us a little while to warm up.”
Xavier took a 15-3 in the first game.
“It ended 15-25, so we made some progress,” Grenlie said. “Once you’re down by 10 points, it’s almost impossible to make a comeback. You have to at least stay in the game, especially when you’re playing a good team.
“We need to work on closing the block on strong hitters,” she said. “One of the things that we’ve worked a lot on is defense. Last year, we struggled a little, so we put a lot of time trying to make sure the girls know where they have to be covering and that they’re staying on their toes and moving their feet. Tonight, if we moved, they compensated and found the open spot. They were always moving the ball around.”
BONDUEL – Waupaca posted a 2-1 record at the tournament after defeating Lena and Suring and dropping two of three games to eventual champion Bonduel.
Grenlie is in her first year as the Comets’ coach and takes over for Trisha Loehrke.
“We’re not a tall team,” she said. “Our tallest six girls are 5-foot-8, so half the team is shorter. When we’re up against girls that are 6-1 and 5-11, we have to be able to jump and play smart. We’re a shorter team, but a lot of them have a great vertical and they can get up there. So far, they’ve been pretty good at blocking the taller girls. When you’re tall, a lot of girls don’t always feel like they need to jump as high. My girls know they need to jump.”
Returning players include Fuss, a senior and three-year starter, and Navin, a junior.
“Kristen plays front, back and all around and I definitely rely on her,” Grenlie said. “Carli also plays front row and back row.”
Grenlie’s daughters, Megan and Taylor, are also back from last year’s team.
“I think serving is one of our strong points,” she said. “We generally serve over 90 percent and a lot of the girls have a nice, hard serve. Megan is amazing at serving spots. If I ask her to serve a short one, she puts it right where I ask her to put it. If I turn around and ask her to serve a long one on the next one, it’s right there.”
Grenlie thinks her squad will bounce back from the loss to Xavier.
“One of the things I’ve been telling them since day one is I don’t want them to focus on perfection,” she said. “We’re all going to make mistakes throughout the year. If they expect to be perfect, they’re going to be disappointed. I do expect that if they make a mistake, they get back out there, try to improve on it, do better next time and keep working on what’s possible, not on perfection.
“That’s kind of been our attitude,” she added. “We’ll come out tomorrow and work on the next game. I don’t think we’ll sit around and mull over this too much.”