New Berlin United may not have been on the radar as a state contender at points throughout the boys volleyball season, but the co-op hit its stride at the right time to earn its third-consecutive trip to the WIAA state tournament.
United tied for the Woodland Conference regular season title with Wauwatosa West and Pius XI before winning the league tournament.
After receiving a bye as the top seed in its sectional, United cruised past fifth-seeded Racine Park in the sectional semifinal. New Berlin fell behind, 2-0, to second-seeded Muskego in the sectional final but stormed back to tie the match and then took the decisive fifth set, 15-13, to advance to state for third straight year and for the sixth time in program history.
At state, United continued to play well, sweeping defending champion Kaukauna in three sets to advance to the state semifinals. But that's where New Berlin's run ended, as eventual state champion Catholic Memorial ended United's season in four sets.
"From early on in the season, many people were not expecting to see the United back at the state tournament or to have a great season," first-year United coach Nick Maske said. "The team had ups and downs, and we believe we peaked at the right point in the season."
Junior Kyle Kraninger was named the Woodland Conference Player of the Year and earned first-team All-Woodland and second-team All-State honors.
Sophomore Brian Voight was also first-team All-Woodland, while junior Zach Just and senior Matt Obradovich were second-team All-Woodland and junior Kyle Olson was honorable mention All-Woodland.
The United players selected Kraninger as the team's Most Valuable Player and Obradovich as the Most Improved Player. Sophomore Nathan Lawton received the Coaches Choice Award.
With Kraninger, Voight, Just and Olson returning as All-Woodland players, United should be a factor at the state level yet again next season.
"We are expecting to return much of our roster and lineup next season, as we had three juniors and seven sophomores and five underclassmen who were starters," Maske said. "Many of our players are playing other sports and or club volleyball during the year, so they should come prepared for next season."