Huskies Pass Test by Rival Badgers
September 29, 2021 by Haley Adams

The Badgers and Huskies have seen great success and accomplishments from their two programs separated by 10 miles.

Match photos click here.

The Badgers and Huskies have seen great success and accomplishments from their two programs separated by 10 miles.

Before the game got underway Sept. 23, Berkshire Head Coach Joni Prots was recognized for her 300th career win against Lutheran West on Sept. 14.

Cardinal senior setter Haley Domen also recorded her 1,000th career dig against CVC foe Grand Valley on Sept. 21.

But it was the Huskies looking to keep CVC hopes alive after dropping their first conference game of the season to Kirtland.

They did not disappoint against Berkshire. However, the team’s 3-1 victory didn’t come easy.

We knew going in we had to play solid volleyball in order to win,” said Karisca Chambers, Cardinal head coach. “We had to be aggressive and play together. The rivalry runs so deep, and we had to take care of them in order to still be able to potentially win CVC. The girls knew that, and they were out for blood.”

The Huskies remain just one game behind the Hornets.

The Badgers had trouble finding their offensive rhythm much of the night.

Cardinal got things started with an ace from junior defensive specialist Ronee Collins, who recorded one of her three aces on the evening. Coach Prots was forced to call a timeout after trailing 11-6. Then Cardinal extended its lead to 14-6, and another timeout would be called when the Badgers found themselves in an 18-7 hole.

Both teams game-planned well against their opponent.

I told my girls they are going to attack Haley Domen and try to take her out of the play,” Chambers said. “It’s super important having my backup setter Rylee Wernsmann able to get the ball to our front row. Domen has incredible defense and was able to get the ball up, and Rylee has nice hands and was able to get the job done.”

Much of Berkshire’s late success came from sophomore Maddie Smetana. Not only did she provide success at the net, Smetana would record a service ace and kill in her team’s 5-0 run.

The Badgers forced the Huskies to four set points before the Huskies took set one 25-18.

We have a good team of leaders when we all come together and play our game, and when we listen to our coaches,” Cardinal’s Lindsay Hissa said.

In a back-and-forth start in the second set, it would be the Badgers who would force the Huskies to call a timeout early in the set after jumping ahead 9-6 with help from juniors Sierra Berman and Gwyn Bors, who each picked up a much needed kill.

Due to an injury on the court for the Badgers, things tied up at 14.

Berkshire soon found the Huskies’ achilles heel, and later found success at the service line. Junior setter Sammi Winter recorded two service aces, forcing her opponent to call a timeout after taking the lead 19-16.

Cardinal then cut the lead to two, 23-21. The Badgers called a timeout to communicate some mental mistakes and discuss the decisions they were making on the court, then Berman took set two, 25-22, with a roll shot that would go down for a kill.

Our defense was on during that set,” said Winter. “Our energy was up, and everyone was working together.”

In sets three and four, it would be all Cardinal. The Huskies took set three 25-14 and set four 25-15.

After dropping the second set, I looked at my girls and said we need to be more intense,” Chambers said. “We coasted through that game at times and let them get ahead. We need to start out stronger and keep that intensity. Don’t back down and don’t let up.”

Leading the way for the Huskies offensively would be Hissa, who recorded a team-high 13 kills. She also picked up 15 digs and contributed with two blocks and one ace on the evening.

Hitting sharp cross-court and finding the holes while tipping over the block really worked out well for me,” said Hissa.

Seniors Lauren Soltis and Karalyn Rutkowski each added six kills on the evening, while Rutkowski recorded a team-high five blocks.

Outside hitters Lindsay Hissa and Lauren Soltis had a great game,” Chambers said. “They stood out offensively. Karalyn Rutkowski had a great blocking game.”

Haley Domen recorded 20 assists and picked up 25 digs in the back.

Wernsmann contributed with six assists, while senior libero Gabby Nemeth added 18 digs. Ronee Collins and Grace Whitney each added three aces a piece.

For the Badgers, Smetana led all hitters with 14 kills. She also pitched in with 10 digs, two aces and three blocks on the evening.

Berman and sophomore middle blocker Hayley Stoddard added eight and seven kills, respectively. Winter led the way with 20 assists, while junior Maddy Triskett pitched in with nine.

Defensively, the Badgers were led by Berman and senior Angie Romano with 21 and 20 digs.

With the win, the Huskies improved to 12-3 overall, while the Badgers dropped to 8-7 overall.