EAST TROY — When the Lakeside Lutheran Warriors were in a groove, they looked unbeatable.
But just as good play came in streaks, errors came in streaks too as they were defeated by McFarland, 28-26, 12-25, 25-22, 16-25, 15-11, in a WIAA Division 2 sectional final at East Troy High School on Saturday night.
“McFarland is a great team,” Lakeside coach Jenny Krauklis said. “They played an awesome defensive match. We had to work hard to earn our points and I felt like my girls did just that. Unfortunately, it came down to controlling our errors in the sets that we lost.”
The Warriors took a 9-6 lead in the fifth set and appeared to be on their way to claiming their first berth to the state tournament since they won the WIAA Division 2 state title in 2017.
McFarland answered with two points before a kill by Payton Kuepers appeared to give Lakeside a 10-8 lead with setter Karli Johnson headed to the service line. Johnson had a match-high three aces and had a team-high six aces in the sectional semifinal. After a long volley, McFarland contested that a Lakeside player had played a “lift,” which had made it over the net. Both teams rallied twice more before the Kuepers kill. The officials decided it was to be replayed with the score 9-8.
While memory is likely to pick that moment out as defining for the match, Lakeside and McFarland again were tied at 11 points after a service error. The Warriors had a swing land out of bounds, had another hit blocked and then were subject to the offense of Katie Hildebrandt, whose swings were the biggest threat to Lakeside.
“We swung hard, we dove for balls, and we served aggressively,” Krauklis said. “That has been our goal all season and I consider that a great achievement. We may have made quite a few errors in the sets we lost.”
Johnson and Kylee Gnabasik gave the Warriors an advantage in the service game. Gnabasik oversaw a seven-point service run in the second set.
On the offensive side of the net, Lakeside senior Ella Collins had 25 kills to lead the team. Kuepers had 18 kills and Sydney Langille added 11 kills.
“Collins, Payton Kuepers and Sydney Langille all had season highs in kills,” Krauklis said. “That shows we were swinging hard and being aggressive. I felt the girls played to win as opposed to playing out of fear.”