Spartan volleyball — a notch above the restThe SHS volleyball team closed out regular season play Tuesday with a 3-0 (25-20, 25-23, 25-21) victory over Duluth Denfeld. The win gives Superior a 25-6 record overall and a perfect 7-0 record in the Lake Superior Conference.
By: Emily Kram, Superior Telegram
The Spartan volleyball team is making short work of its to-do list.
The girls have met two of their three goals for the season, and if they win their opening-round playoff game at Superior High School Thursday, they’ll need to come up with some new objectives.
“Our goals for the season were to win the conference, to get a home playoff game and to win our first-round match,” said Lori Keute, SHS head volleyball coach. “That’s to be determined, but hopefully it will be fulfilled on Thursday.”
The SHS volleyball team closed out regular season play Tuesday with a 3-0 (25-20, 25-23, 25-21) victory over Duluth Denfeld. The win gives Superior a 25-6 record overall and a perfect 7-0 record in the Lake Superior Conference.
Superior hosts Antigo at 6 p.m. Thursday to begin the WIAA Division 1 playoffs.
“They put up some good scores against talented teams, so they’re definitely a team to be reckoned with,” Keute said. “I think there’s a lot of parity, especially in that center group of teams in our sectional.”
The Spartans are the No. 8 seed in the 14-team sectional while Antigo is No. 9. The winner of Thursday’s game advances to play No. 1 seed Merrill at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Tuesday’s victory over Denfeld put the finishing touches on Superior’s LSC volleyball title.
For the past two seasons, the Spartans have been fixated on adding a banner to the wall of the SHS gym. Nearly every other team has its place on the wall, with three earning their conference championship banners in the last two years.
At the start of the season, the volleyball players said this would be their year.
“It’s surreal. I can’t even wrap my brain around it that we got the banner this year,” said senior Ally Keute. “I know last year we said that was our goal, and this year to actually accomplish it feels amazing.”
“Just the fact that it’s our senior year too makes it a great way to go out,” Dani Madgzas said.
The seniors say Superior’s work this summer was the secret to its success. The three seniors — Amanda Larson, Madgzas and Ally Keute — set the tone for the season to come. They pushed players to develop their individual skills and to see how their skills fit in with the larger team.
Once the season started, everyone was already on the same page, said Madgzas. She and sophomore hitter Jessica Lindstrom, in particular, have developed good working chemistry. The two lead the Spartans in kills and feed off each other well in the front row.
“When I’m having a down moment or she’s having a down moment, we know to pick each other back up,” Madgzas said. “Jessica’s an amazing hitter, and I know she’s going to be great. She’s got two years left.”
Ally Keute, on the other hand, is acutely aware that this is her last season with the Spartans. She’ll be leaving the volleyball program along with her younger sister, Maddie, and mother, Lori, when the family moves to Grand Rapids this year.
“For me it’s really very bittersweet,” said Lori Keute, who took over as head coach in 2009. “I’ve worked with all of these girls through the J.O. program since all of them were on their 12- and 14-year-old teams. I don’t want to leave them without a coach, and I feel that’s what I’m doing.
“I know there are other people out there, and I’d just as soon they find someone better than me, just to keep pushing the program and get more years up on that banner. I know that we’re on the right path.”
This volleyball season has been Superior’s best in more than a decade, but the players say they’re not done yet.
On Thursday they’ll play not only to keep their playoff hopes alive, but to keep the team together for a few weeks more.
“With Ally leaving and everybody else who’s not going to be here next year, it’s going to be such a different kind of feel to the team than it is this year,” Madgzas said. “We just want to hold on to it as long as possible.”