Lake Mills senior Dana Baumann slid across the floor, missing a final line-kill by Wapsie Valley’s 6-foot-2 junior Mikenna Joerger. Baumann stayed in her crouched position, her arms flat in front of her.
There’s no way she could’ve gotten that ball, but she went for it anyway.
That was the story for much of the match in which Wapsie Valley tested the Bulldogs’ endurance in a 28-26, 21-25, 25-19, 25-21 defeat in a Class 2A regional final.
“There’s a lot of family mentality in there,” head coach Jim Boehmer said, stepping out of the locker room. “People a lot of times will ask me you know when you’re coaching high school girls and they have sometimes the reactions they have, how do you deal with that? And I love it because it tells me two things: they’re truly committed to a cause and they set extremely high goals.”
Defense was the story, with four of the Bulldogs finishing the match with double-digit digs. Baumann led the team with 33, senior Laura Knudtson had 14, senior Mallory Wilhem 12 and senior Ashley Groe 11. Senior Teah Kesler and junior Hannah Hanson finished with five total blocks each.
Groe finished with 39 assists, aiding in Wilhelm’s 18 kills and Megan Groe’s 12.
Lake Mills started off the first set with a five-point lead over the Warriors, up 11-6. While the Warriors seemed to close the deficit, the Bulldogs maintained at least a two-point lead for much of the set, extending it to 23-19. But the Bulldogs couldn’t finish as the Warriors tied the set four times before winning it on a missed attack by Wilhelm and a kill by Joerger to take it 28-26.
The second set was almost the same story as the Bulldogs got off to an eight-point lead 17-9. At 20-12, the Warriors rallied back seven points to the Bulldogs’ two, making it 22-19. But Lake Mills would finish on top for a 25-21 victory.
Lake Mills lost its groove in the third set, falling to a 13-7 deficit and unable to make up for it in time for a 25-19 defeat.
The fourth set was the final dagger as the two teams would tie the set eight times before the Warriors took over to seal the set and match 25-21.
“Whether they lost here or first round of state or second round or state or wherever – we’ve lost in the state finals before, we’ve lost in the state semifinal before – every time feels the same way because it’s ending in that commitment to the group,” Boehmer said. “When you’re committed to a cause, no matter where it ends, it hurts.”