October 17, 2019
WAUSAU– The Wisconsin Valley Conference match up between Wausau East and D.C. Everest on Thursday evening wasn’t exactly a make-or-break situation for either team.
After all, East stood at 3-8 in the conference standings, one game ahead of the 2-9 Evergreens.
While there might not have been a lot of drama in terms of overall records or conference standings, the game had plenty of meaning for East’s contingent of six seniors.
Playing in what will likely be the last home game of their respective careers, the Lumberjack seniors helped deliver a knockout performance in East’s 3-0 sweep of the Evergreens.
East was led once again by senior Taylor Pagel, who entered the contest with a conference-leading 172 kills and padded those stats with a game-high 23 kills to go along with 11 digs.
Whenever the Lumberjacks needed a surge of adrenaline, Pagel seemed to be at the ready.
Case in point was a tight stretch in the second set that saw the Evergreens take a 16-14 lead. Just when it seemed as though Everest had seized momentum, Pagel came through with three consecutive kills to give the Lumberjacks not only the lead, but also a healthy dose of momentum.
“She went into our weaknesses,” said Everest coach Tina Prahl of Pagel. “We came out blocking her cross right away, knowing that our defense was set up for line, then she was doing that so we shifted. My team did well with the shift and what they were asked to do, but she just kind of found a lot of our weak spots tonight.”
East coach Sarah Fisher emphasized the importance of the pieces around Pagel in the senior star’s big night.
“Taylor had an absolutely amazing game, but she couldn’t have done it without the rest of her team,” Fisher said. “The passes were amazing, the sets were beautiful, so it kind of made Taylor’s job really easy tonight.”
Senior Kendra Behnke had 22 assists for the Lumberjacks and Grace Stimac, also a senior, contributed two blocks.
Junior Chelsie Lambrecht led East with 17 digs.
With contributions up and down their line up, the Lumberjacks were able to put some of the rough patches of the season behind them as they prepare to take on Marshfield in the regional round of the WIAA playoffs on October 24.
Perhaps more importantly, the team was playing loose and having fun.
“It’s been an interesting season for us,” said Fisher. “I think we kind of got in a rut in the middle of it. I think that took a mental toll. We were getting down on ourselves with losses that we know we should have won. Learning to let those go was hard for us. But we talked about what we wanted to do tonight, how we wanted to finish the season, and they came out and did it tonight.”
Meanwhile, Everest had just one senior playing in Thursday night’s game, so as the team heads toward the finish line of the season, there is plenty to look forward to for Evergreen volleyball fans.
“We got a lot of touches on the ball today, we just weren’t able to get it finished,” said Prahl. “I feel like that’s something we’re working on and talk about a lot. We were digging up a lot of stuff. I feel like the rallies were really long. No one really gave up. The plays were going through as long as they could. Our motto this year is get better every time. Get one percent better every day. We continue to strive for that and this team will only get better.”
Everest will square off against Merrill in the regional– that game is scheduled for October 24 in Merrill.
Everest 15 19 13
East 25 25 25