Undefeated Waunakee sweeps DeForest
DEFOREST — Never underestimate the power of experience.
Seniors Kiana Schmitt, Kaleigh Roepke, Sarah Malone and Summer Schwenn have been together on the Waunakee girls volleyball varsity team for three years and 6-foot-3 middle hitter Schmitt, 5-9 outside hitter Roepke and 5-7 libero Malone have played as teammates at Capital Volleyball Academy.
“I think everyone is really comfortable with each other on the court,” Schmitt said. “It helps us flow really well together when we play. We know what we all are going to do.”
Warriors coach Anne Denkert understands what that means for her team, which defeated Badger North Conference rival DeForest 25-19, 25-19, 25-16 on Thursday night.
“Playing together makes a difference; it makes a huge difference,” said Denkert, who guided the Warriors to the WIAA Division 1 state tournament last year. “We are a very well-knit group. … They like each other. They like to hang out. They are very focused. It’s a great group. There’s been no drama. They want to win. They want to do well.”
Add in dynamic junior outside hitter Milla Malik, who moved from Illinois prior to last season, and it’s crystal clear why the Warriors are undefeated and highly ranked.
The 5-10 Malik, a University of Buffalo recruit, had a match-high six aces and added six kills for Waunakee (18-0 overall, 1-0 Badger North), seventh in Division 1 in the Wisconsin Volleyball Coaches Association state rankings and second-ranked in the state by prepdig.com.
“They are loaded,” DeForest coach Scott Schumann said. “They returned almost everybody. … It was a solid team last year and then they returned everybody. They are just better. So, I didn’t mind the result. I just wanted to play well and play hard.”
Schmitt, a Creighton recruit and the top-ranked senior in Wisconsin by prepdig.com, totaled six kills and 3½ blocks.
“We all knew DeForest would be a tough team,” Schmitt said. “Everyone wanted to play their best and let the scoreboard take care of itself. We started off a little nervous; it was our first conference game. Once we got going, we played really well.”
Senior outside hitter Sophee Mink, a High Point University recruit who also played at Capital Volleyball Academy with the aforementioned Waunakee trio, led DeForest (7-7, 2-1) with a match-high seven kills. Norskies junior Emily BonoAnno had a match-high 16 digs.
“We are a much better team now than we were last year at this time,” Schumann said. “The goal is to peak in October and early November. We have a little over a month to get things fixed. We’ll be OK. I’m not stressing.”
Malik had three of her aces during a six-point run that gave the Warriors a 12-6 lead in the first set. Schmitt came through with consecutive kills, building Waunakee’s advantage to 17-11. After the Norskies closed within 22-18, Malik delivered a kill and Malone served an ace to give the Warriors a cushion at 24-18.
Waunakee scored six consecutive points in taking a 15-6 lead in the second set. Schwenn, a 5-4 setter, recorded two aces and Schmitt had a kill and a block kill during that flurry.
“They served really hard,” Schumann said. “They served a lot harder than I expected.”
DeForest rallied within 22-18, but Roepke’s kill — making it 23-18 — stymied the Norskies’ comeback.
“I’m always a fan of consistency,” Denkert said. “If there is something at the end of the day you can hang your hat on, it’s being consistent and it’s doing things consistently. … I felt we were doing that today.”
The Warriors’ early-season success included three tournament titles and now a victory over DeForest.
“It’s been a rivalry since I started in 2001 and I’m sure it was before I even got here,” Denkert said. “But it’s always good to beat the neighboring team. They’ve always been strong. … So to win, heck, yeah.”
Waunakee 25 25 25
DeForest 19 19 16
WAUNAKEE (leaders): Kills — Schmitt 6, Malik 6. Digs — Malone 12. Blocks — Schmitt 3½. Aces — Malik 6. Assists —Schwenn 14.
DEFOREST (leaders): Kills — Mink 7. Digs — BonoAnno 16. Blocks — Mickelson 2. Aces — Meiners 2. Assists — Doucette 10.