Wauwatosa East girls volleyball coach Katie Beining had a good feeling before the Red Raiders' dual match with the Trojans on Sept. 20 at Wauwatosa West.
Later on in the fifth game of the exciting match, she had that feeling once again.
As a result, the Red Raiders nipped Tosa West, 3-2, before an enthusiastic crowd in a big non-conference match.
"Before the start of the match, I felt a different chemistry among the team," Beining said. "Everyone was very fired up to play their crosstown rival Tosa West. Our warm-ups were very strong and everyone was pumped up in the huddle before the start of the match."
Tosa East won the first two games (25-21, 25-22) but then dropped the next two (12-25, 12-25) before coming back to win the fifth game (15-12).
"We started out Games 1 and 2 with a lot of aggressiveness," Beining said. "The players were very encouraging to each other and motivated. Both teams played competitively, but we finished the first two games stronger than Tosa West."
Tosa West co-coach Kelly Dwyer was disappointed in the Trojans' start.
"We came out a little too pumped up I think," Dwyer said. "We were over passing a lot in Game 1 and we usually don't do that. I think East jumped out to a 10-1 lead but the girls battled back and made a game out of it.
"Game 2 started a lot better for us. We had the lead for most of the game until the end. We just couldn't finish it out. We probably should have gotten that one, but we let it slip away."
The Trojans then came out and blew away the Red Raiders in Games 3 and 4 by 25-12 scores.
"The next two games were totally different from the first two," Dwyer said. "We came out strong and I think East kind of relaxed a little bit with the two-game lead. Andrea Hafemeister had five aces in Game 3 alone. In Games 3 and 4 we had more of a sense of urgency and it showed in our play."
Beining was disappointed that her team didn't seize the moment.
"We lost our spark," she said. "We knew that the victory was within reach, but not everyone was ready to step up and take it. We looked hesitant to win and played not to lose."
But then Beining had that good feeling once again going into the final game.
"Every single player on the team started cheering and getting fired up in the huddle before Game 5," she said. "I could sense a different type of focus than we have had all season long and I had a good feeling about Game 5.
"In the huddle, there were so many positive comments coming from each player. We started out with a lot of momentum coming from lots of key kills and aces. If our players made a mistake, the rest of the team was there to pick them up so we kept all the positive energy on our side of the court."
When the game started getting close toward the end, Lydia Hartman-Keiser stepped up with a big ace and Dakota Powless made some big kill shots for Tosa East.
"We fell behind early (8-4) and in a short game it's hard to come back from a four-point deficit," Dwyer said. "The girls never quit and we almost made the comeback.
"Did we play our best game? No, but I told the girls after the game that they had nothing to hang their heads about. They gave it their all, and I was really proud of the way they handled themselves and kept fighting even after being down two games to none."
Beining was thrilled with the victory.
"Each and every player contributed to our victory," she said. "The players on the court brought a lot of effort and fire while our players off the court brought a lot of encouragement and motivation.
"I am very impressed and proud of the way our team played. It is a huge highlight of our season for each player to step up and own their role.
"This will be a very memorable win for us this season."
Afterward, Dwyer had special praise for Elise Ditscheit, Hafemeister, Emily Schaefer (defense) and Ellen Restyanski (hitting and serving).
"It's just the little things here and there that we need to clean up," Dwyer said. "I think our blocking could have been a little better.
"I have to hand it to East, they played a really good game, probably one of their best all year. Kathleen O'Connell was a beast; we could not stop her; she had an awesome game.
"For us, this game isn't going to make or break our season. We just learn from the experience and come back better and stronger for our conference games (this week)."
Kills: Kathleen O'Connell, 26
Assists: Chelsey Powless, 47
Digs: Lydia Hartman-Keiser, 19
Aces: Five with two
Kills: Elise Ditscheit, 15, Andrea Hafemeister, 13
Assists: Maddie Inman, 23, Ali Stewart, 23
Digs: Hafemeister, 15
Aces: Hafemeister, 6
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