His Middleton boys volleyball team was trailing 8-4 in what could have been its final set of the season Thursday night.
Cardinals coach Ben White was a little bit in the dark. But he decided that rather than panic in a search for that elusive light switch, he would trust it to switch on by itself.
And that’s exactly what happened. Middleton won the fourth set of its WIAA sectional final against Wales Kettle Moraine, tying the match, and then won the fifth going away for a 3-2 victory and a sixth straight trip to the state tournament.
“All night, our message on the bench was to stay calm, relax and play our game,” said White, whose Cardinals took a 25-16, 19-25, 21-25, 25-21, 15-8 victory over the Lasers at Madison Memorial.
“We did move some people around in our lineup for (set) four,” White said. “It’s a night when you look at the changes you made and every one of them was the right move.”
The biggest switch was to move senior Eagan Peters-Michaud to defend against Kettle Moraine’s top scorer.
“It opened up the offense for junior Parker Van Buren, and that made a big difference.”
Van Buren led the Cardinals in kills with 23, and season kills leader Peters-Michaud totaled 22.
“And then, (seniors) Dylan Griffith and Matt Ballweg made a big difference on defense,” White said. “We didn’t let the ball hit the floor down the stretch.”
Griffith totaled 23 digs and Ballweg finished with 53 assists for Middleton, which will travel to Wisconsin Lutheran College in Milwaukee Nov. 9 for quarterfinal action.
“We haven’t had a match test us in quite a while,” White said of his third-ranked Cardinals. “I was impressed with how the kids stepped up.”
Burlington 3, Kimberly 2
Outside hitter Coley Haggard led the Devils with 16 kills and 2.5 blocks as the fourth-seeded Demons (37-5) narrowly defeated the Papermakers (33-11) by scores of 14-25, 25-12, 26-24, 18-25, 15-9, in a Division 1 state quarterfinal.
Kimberly’s Courtney Pearson and Maggie Cartwright combined to lead all players with 20 kills apiece, and Pearson also led all players in digs with 28.
Efficiency ended up being the decisive factor in the quarterfinal matchup, as Burlington posted a .288 hitting percentage (56 kills, 12 errors in 153 attempts) to Kimberly’s .178.
The Demons advance to the semifinals where they will face Waukesha West, who defeated top overall seed Hartland Arrowhead in their quarterfinal match.
Waukesha West 3,
Hartland Arrowhead 1
For the Wolverines (35-10), Alexis Boling had 21 kills and hit at a .500 clip in a 25-18, 25-22, 21-25, 29-27 upset of the top-seeded Warhawks (45-7).
Wolverines setter McKenna Scharnek recorded a match-high five aces, as Waukesha West recorded 14 total aces to Arrowhead’s four.
Warhawks all-state outside hitter Aubrey Hamilton recorded 24 kills, but the rest of the team combined for 28 kills and 15 errors on 101 attacks, hitting only .129 on the night.
River Falls 3, Greendale 0
Anna Wolf had 11 kills and no errors on only 14 attempts as the Wildcats (43-2), the 2017 state runner-up, swept the Panthers (31-17) by scores of 25-17, 25-14 and 25-19.
Greendale was held to a .082 hitting percentage on the night. River Falls posted a .438 hitting percentage on the night, with Emily Banitt leading all players with 13 kills.
River Falls is now the top remaining seed in the tournament, and will face Oconomowoc in the semifinals tomorrow.
New Berlin Eisenhower 1,
Matt Prodoehl scored the match’s only goal in the 17th minute as the Lions (17-3-1) upset the top-seeded Bulldogs (15-3-2) to advance to Saturday’s Division 2 state final.
The two teams combined for a total of five shots, and Prodoehl’s goal was the Lions’ only on-target shot. Cedarburg had seven corner kick opportunities on the night, but was unable to convert any of them.
New Berlin Eisenhower will face (Oregon/Holmen, finish later) Saturday for the state crown.
Milwaukee Pius XI 7,
For the second-seeded Popes (21-3-2), Ivan Cuellar scored a hat trick and added two assists in a romp past the Blackhawks (20-1-2) in a Division 3 semifinal.
Cuellar scored on two of the match’s first three goals and assisted on the third, and Pius never led by less than two goals for the remainder of the match. Cuellar’s teammate DJ Singleton added two goals in the second half, and Pius racked up 18 shots on goal over the course of the match.
The Popes will face top-seeded McFarland Saturday for the Division 3 title.