GREEN BAY — It may take a while for this moment to truly sink in for McDonell senior Sydney Flanagan.
After McDonell steamrolled Wabeno/Laona 25-13, 25-15, 25-14 for the WIAA Division 4 state girls volleyball championship Saturday, Flanagan smiled and fought back tears while expressing her feelings.
“It’s a dream — it doesn’t feel real right now,” Flanagan said. “I grew up watching the big kids do it and never thought I would be able to do it. Today is a dream — a goal that not everybody gets to achieve. I’m so happy that me and my four fellow seniors got to do what we did today. We’re achieving a goal that not everybody gets to have.
“It’s a dream come true. Last year we wanted it bad, and we came back and we got it.”
The Macks, who fell short in the title match last year, dominated their state tournament opponents this year en route to the school’s second WIAA volleyball title and first since 2009. McDonell, making its fourth overall appearance at state, finished the season 36-14, while Wabeno/Laona capped its year at 38-9.
McDonell players and coaches shared smiles, hugs and tears of joy on the Resch Center court before hoisting the gold trophy overhead for appreciative McDonell fans.
“I’m so proud of them for the way they came down and fought,” Macks coach Kat Hanson said. “We had a lot of adversity in our season. There were a lot of low points in our season. They flipped a switch and they made conscious efforts to change things around.
“The level of ball that we were playing the last three weeks is a whole different level than what we played the rest of the season. That’s a tribute to them, their mental toughness, their physical ability. I’m just so proud of them.”
McDonell peaked at the perfect time, sweeping both state tournament foes in impressive fashion. In the semifinals, the Macks defeated Wonewoc-Center 25-21, 25-19, 25-11. The squad ended the season on a streak of 12 consecutive sets won.
McDonell took charge right from the start against Wabeno/Laona and never looked back.
Destiny Baughman powered the Macks’ attack with 12 kills and six digs. Grace Goettl recorded nine kills and one dig, and Marley Hughes finished with seven kills.
Also turning in standout performances for McDonell were Kaitlyn Ortmann (five kills, five digs, five aces — including four straight aces late in the second set), Lauryn Deetz (18 digs, three assists), Abby Bresina (21 assists, seven digs, one ace), Emily Cooper (11 assists, 10 digs), Flanagan (six digs, two aces), Josie Witkowski (two digs, one kill) and Aubrey Dorn (three kills, one dig).
Wabeno/Laona coach Michelle Boor said of the Macks: “They’re a very good team. ... Our back row was a little bit slow and flat footed, so we were just late to everything.”
Hanson made sure her team didn’t take its foot off the gas in the third set, telling the Macks to “live in the moment.”
“That was our message all of set 3 — be present in the moment, because as great as it is to win a gold ball, it sucks to be a senior,” Hanson said. “It’s hard because you’re done. So we really tried to just be in the moment and cherish the good and the bad and just be together and be present to absorb those feelings.”
When Deetz was asked what thoughts were going through her head in those final moments, she replied: “The excitement. How we’re going to celebrate. When we’re going to celebrate. Just like waiting for a firework to go off — you never know when it’s going to happen. You want to see the beautiful moment happen.”
McDonell 3, Wabeno/Laona 0
McDonell def. Wabeno/Laona 25-13, 25-15, 25-14.
McDonell leaders: Destiny Baughman 12 kills, 6 digs, Grace Goettl 9 kills, Marley Hughes 7 kills, Kait Ortmann 5 kills, 5 aces, 5 digs, Lauryn Deetz 18 digs, Emily Cooper 10 digs, 11 assists.