By sweeping New Berlin West, the New Berlin Eisenhower girls volleyball team took down its rival. However, its win two days later over Wauwatosa West had a greater impact in the Woodland West standings as it allowed the Lions to finish alone in second place at 4-1.
After dropping its conference opener to first-place Greendale, Eisenhower won four division matches.
“It’s been a work in progress,” Eisenhower coach Mike Bunzel said. “It started probably back as early as May or June. From the earliest open gym, the girls really have been working really, really hard on trying to figure out how to iron out our things and get our stuff working.
"They’re really starting to put it together in all phases, and it’s fun to watch as a coach. You really work on some things and to see it happen in a game is fun.”
Eisenhower took care of New Berlin West with a 25-16, 25-16, 25-8 win on Sept. 13.
The Vikings hung around in each of the first two sets before allowing the Lions to go on a run to pull away.
Eisenhower grabbed control of the first set with a 9-1 run to take a 21-14 lead, while a 12-3 spurt in the second set gave the Lions a 20-11 advantage.
It was all Eisenhower in the third set, as the Lions easily closed out the match.
Senior middle hitter Makenzie Mroczenski led Eisenhower with 18 kills and finished with a hitting percentage of .536. Senior Riley Fischer had 30 assists, nine digs, five aces and two blocks, while junior Addie Sagat added 11 digs and junior Megan Loewus had nine digs.
"It is always a pleasure to have a big middle that can terminate like that," Bunzel said. "But to be honest, it really is a function of the whole team. Megan Loewus had one of her best matches of the year (against West). Riley set a great match. We were constantly in system."
The loss dropped New Berlin West to 0-4 in the Woodland.
Senior setter Anabelle Smith had three kills and 11 assists, while senior outside hitter Ruwandi Wijenayake, junior right side Taylor Whipple and junior middle Jasmine Werner each added three kills. Senior Molly Austad and junior Cheyenne Sowinski had seven digs.
“It’s just frustrating," Viking coach Courtney Wiegel said. "We’ve got talent. We’ve got girls that have played together before, but they just can’t find a way to pull it together this season. We’ve got some young girls and some seniors stepping into roles they haven’t been in before. We’ve had some injuries and other setbacks at the beginning of the season, so we really haven’t had a full team yet this season. So that has been really challenging.
"We’ve got athletes on our team; it’s just hard for them to find ways to execute and really have a lot of energy and stay positive in those times when we get down.”
The Vikings did bounce back to earn their first victory of the season over Pius XI on Sept. 15.
"We can win," Wiegel said. "We are capable of winning. It is not like we are a team that doesn't have athletes. Our big thing right now, and this has been an issue since I've been here, is mental toughness. That's been my biggest goal. Something we really struggle with is finding a way to get out of those ruts when we get in them."
Eisenhower entered the week in a three-way tie for second place with Wauwatosa West and Pewaukee.
By defeating the Trojans, 25-21, 25-23, 25-15, on Sept. 15, the Lions separated themselves from Wauwatosa West. Greendale is 5-0 in the Woodland West, with Eisenhower at 4-1 and Wauwatosa West and Pewaukee at 3-2.
“We are playing much better,” Bunzel said after the New Berlin West match. “Things that were former holes in our structure are now patched, and we are executing those same plays we were missing two or three weeks ago. A lot of smart decisions and great plays from a lot of different kids.”
UW-Oshkosh High School Showdown
Eisenhower took second at the 32-team UW-Oshkosh High School Showdown on Sept. 16 and 17.
The Lions took down Plymouth (2-0), Cedar Grove Belgium (2-0) and Lodi (2-1) in pool play before beating Marathon (2-0), Fond du Lac (2-0) and Wausau Newman (2-0) to advance to the finals.
Kettle Moraine Lutheran ended Eisenhower's run in the championship match with a 25-21, 25-19 win.