Tri-County prep volleyball teams battle for state berths
Could it be high schools just 14 miles apart from another could compete in the same tournament?
Indeed, both No. 5 ranked Fall Creek and Osseo-Fairchild are in the finals of their respective WIAA sectional tournaments and wins tonight at 7 p.m. in their home gyms will put them at the state tournament next Saturday in Wausau.
FC will have a tough challenge as they face No. 3 ranked Granstburg who is 7-0 this season while the Crickets are 15-2. The Pirates have been a traditional power in girls volleyball at the small school level, winning state titles in 2001 and 2009. Grantsburg has been to 14 state tournaments, the latest in 2018. Fall Creek made its first appearance at the state tourney last season and are the defending sectional champions. FC easily swept aside Clear Lake, last season's Division 4 champions, in the semifinals at Fall Creek.
Osseo-Fairchild has been on a remarkable roll after a 2-5 record just before the playoffs. The Thunder have won five straight matches including last Thursday's sectional semifinal win over Mondovi. O-F rallied to win three straight games after losing the first Game 1 by a 25-12 score.
"It was nerves, no questions," O-F head coach Sharon Steinke said. "Once we got on a roll everything just clicked and worked for us just like it has this season."
The nerves were largely due to this being unchartered territory for O-F as they last won a regional title in 1985. They were sectional runner-ups in 1974.
The Thunder faces a 6-3 Cochrane-Fountain City squad which upended the top seed in the tourney, Mineral Point, by a 3-1 score on the road. C-FC has traditionally strong program, winning many Dairyland Conference and regional title although they've only been to state once, in 1987.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state tournament has been moved from the Resch Center in Green Bay and broken with a different high school across the state hosting each division. The tourney is only one-day as well. The Division 3 tournament will be in Wausau at West High School.