Wauwatosa East finally had its ample hometown crowd into the match when it took an 18-16 lead in the third set against powerhouse Marquette on Nov. 12 in the WIAA boys volleyball state semifinal, compelling a Hilltopper timeout.
The lead was 20-18 before Marquette did what it had done all day, deliver a micro-surge that put the match out of reach.
Marquette won seven of the match’s final eight points and put away Tosa East, 25-21, 25-15, 25-21, to reach the state championship Saturday evening at Wisconsin Lutheran College. Tosa East, which outlasted Arrowhead in four sets the night before in the state quarterfinal, finished the season 26-10.
“They put so much pressure on you, and then when you don’t perform … even three little runs of two or three points, and then we’re behind five,” Tosa East coach John Simon said. “I’m proud of the way we played defense and the way we blocked. We put up a battle against a No. 1-rated team.”
Marquette’s attack proved relentless, finishing with just eight hitting errors to Tosa East’s 23 and an absurd hitting percentage of .413. Evan Dorschner led the Hilltoppers with 13 kills, and the squad looked more than capable of landing its ninth WIAA state championship.
“I’m actually happy the way we battled with them,” Simon said. “They have a lot of weapons. We have a lot of weapons, but so do they. We just needed some more things to fall our way, and they didn’t.”
Tosa East knotted the first set at 19-19 before Marquette closed on a similar run.
Aaron Plaisted capped his decorated career with 12 kills, Joe Marx added 31 assists and Abe Murphy — one of seven juniors due back in 2017 — had a team-best seven digs.
They got us out of system a little bit, and when we can’t set our middles, it becomes a little bit of a struggle,” Plaisted said. “It was definitely what we were hoping for (getting to the state semifinal). We kind of screwed ourselves up with the seeding and had to play Marquette in the semis instead of a chance to play CMH for a shot to reach the championship.”
Plaisted is one of seven starters due to graduate, but Simon didn’t think the Red Raiders would struggle going forward.
“Twice this year in practice, it was juniors against the seniors, and the juniors won both,” he said. “I have really good backup juniors. Mitchell Weinberg-Kinsey and Nick Stahn are dynamic outside hitters, but they were behind Aaron and Charlie (Hutson).”
Starting libero Blake Kratzer, Hutson, middle blocker Eric Winter, Marx, Luke Hamill, Shane Leong and Plaisted are the seniors. Winter finished with eight kills and three assist-blocks, and Miller added four assist-blocks.