By Brian Kalish

September 19, 2019

ROTHSCHILD– When it comes right down to it, Thursday’s volleyball match played by Newman Catholic and D.C. Everest won’t make or break either team’s season.

After all, it was a non-conference contest featuring a WIAA Division 4 team in Newman and a WIAA Division 1 team in D.C. Everest.

For the record, Newman came away with a 3-0 sweep, but the truth is that pretty much everyone walked out of the Everest fieldhouse a winner.

For the third consecutive year, Newman and Everest partnered for the “Volley for our Neighbors” match, which raised funds and awareness for the Neighbors’ Place in Wausau.

It’s an event that places the importance of community over the outcome of the match itself.

“We’re really working to teach the players to be thankful for what they have because there are those who are less privileged than us,” said D.C. Everest coach Tina Prahl. “We’ve been putting a lot of effort into making sure that… we can support people who are less fortunate than us.”

“I think it’s important for the girls to see that there is something way above and beyond what you can do with your sport,” said Newman coach Betty Lange.  “When you are an athlete, what you really should be doing is helping the community and trying to make a positive impact.  We choose this because it’s local and it’s needed. I think it really helps them understand that.”

The spirit of community was apparent at the conclusion of the match when players for Newman and Everest gathered together for a group photo.

The match itself tilted in Newman’s favor due in large part to a relentless attack from big hitters Evelyn Gabriel and Linnea Svennes.

Svennes led the Cardinals with 20 kills– which is all the more remarkable when considering the fact that she is recovering from mono.

Svennes’ appearance against Everest was just the second time she has seen game action this season.

“We’re really super excited that we’ve got our #13 back,” said Lange.  “She hasn’t been with us for quite some time.  She was out for three weeks and (it’s been) really tough coming back and having any kind of energy.  So my words for her were, you’re in three rotations in the front row, you work really super hard for three sets and then we don’t have to go and play more.”

Svennes admitted it has been a long road to get back on the court, but viewed Thursday’s match as a step forward.

“Those three weeks I was out, I was just really excited about getting back to play volleyball,” Svennes said. “This was my second game that I’ve played since being back and I just wanted to try my best.”

Just as big as Svennes’ play was that of Lauren Shields.

Shields was like a Swiss Army knife.  She seemed to have exactly the right tool whenever the Cardinals needed her, whether it was a kill (she finished the contest with 11), a dig, solid serving… you name it.

“That girl is everywhere and she carries a big load,” Lange said. “She’s a workhorse.”

Everest showed a lot of heart, particularly in the second and third sets, respectively.  It would have been easy for Evergreens to pack it in after a 25-16 loss in the first set.  But they battled to within two points at 12-14 in the second set before Newman took control.  In the third set, Everest pushed the Cardinals to a 20-20 tie before yielding down the stretch.

“We’re a young team and I feel today we did the best that we could,” Prahl said. “Overall, we battled through. We played tough.  I don’t feel like we ever hung our heads. They never gave up.”

Dani Langseth led Everest with 7 kills, and Abby Duffrin had 21 digs. Kiara Hammond recorded 11 assists.

Both teams will attempt to use Thursday’s match as a springboard for the remainder of the season, but it’s apparent that their efforts to impact the community will be felt long after the season is over.