ASHWAUBENON — Waterloo junior outside hitter Brooke Mosher was definitely in the defensive crosshairs on Friday.
The La Crosse Aquinas girls volleyball team’s scouting report focused on keeping the 6-foot University of Illinois recruit in its sights at all times during the WIAA Division 3 girls volleyball semifinal match at the Resch Center.
And the Blugolds’ plan proved successful. Third-seeded Aquinas limited Mosher and Waterloo’s attack during a 25-13, 25-17, 25-18 victory over the second-seeded Pirates.
Joslyn Wolff, a 5-11 junior, had a team-high 12 kills for Capitol South Conference champion and second-ranked Waterloo (31-11), which hit .109 as a team. Mosher had 11 kills, 14 digs and 11 assists, but was held to a .000 hitting percentage on 40 total attacks.
“We feel down right now, but once summer comes, we are going to get right back into it and we’re going to come back,” Mosher said.
Aquinas coach Danielle George said her team’s defense was focused on Mosher and putting the onus on Mosher’s teammates.
“It’s one of those things where she is talented, right? And today doesn’t dictate how she is as a player,” George said. “I know she could have done some serious damage to us today, but we knew that and we knew we had to take care of her. The conversation in the locker room was, `Know where she is at every point. Watch her body angles. Be ready for her tips. Watch her angles on a hit and know it is coming.’ ’’
Asked about the defensive attention paid to her, Mosher said: “I think we all depend on each other. It’s not just one person leading. We are a big team that works together.”
Waterloo also had a difficult time dealing with the athleticism of Mississippi Valley Conference champion and fourth-ranked Aquinas (31-3), which features players who helped the Blugolds win the past two WIAA Division 4 basketball titles and the Division 3 track and field championship last spring.
Lexi Donarski, a 5-10 senior outside hitter, hit .419 and delivered a match-high 21 kills for the Blugolds, who hit .326 overall. Donarski orally committed as an eighth-grader to Iowa State for basketball.
“We did play a tough tournament schedule, but we hadn’t faced anyone with those type of athletes in a while,” said Waterloo coach Christy Mosher, Brooke’s mother. “We were starting to figure it out, but it was too little too late there.”
Waterloo, which won Division 3 state titles in 2014 and 2015, was back at state for the first time since 2017.
“We had a great season,” Christy Mosher said. “We were pumped to get back to state. I’m really proud of the team for that. We prepared. We watched Aquinas on tape. And they played a heck of a match today. Hats off to them. We had a hard time slowing down their hitters. They played a really good match, despite our best efforts to stop them.”
Christy Mosher said the Blugolds, who finished with nine aces, applied high pressure with their serves.
“Their serves were definitely really good,” Wolff said. “Our serve-receive wasn’t our best, but we gave it our all.”
Said Donarski: “I really think that we were able to side-out quick. Our serve-receive was really good. So, when were able to eliminate their runs, it really helped us go on our runs.”
Aquinas advances to play top-seeded Howards Grove (43-4) in the Division 3 championship match at 11:30 a.m. Saturday.
“I’m just really proud of how our girls came out in that first set today,” George said. “I think we were really focused. I think we had a good game plan today and they were able to execute. Our energy on the floor was great. Our energy from the bench was great. It was a total team effort today.”
La Crosse Aquinas 25 25 25
Waterloo 13 17 18
LA CROSSE AQUINAS (leaders) — Kills (35): Donarski 21. Assists (31): Theusch 30. Aces (9): Theusch 3, Donarski 2, Bahr 2, Nolte 2. Digs (42): Nolte 19, Donarski 7, Theusch 6.
WATERLOO — Kills (31): Wolff 12, Mosher 11. Assists (28): Mosher 11, Wolff 8, Riege 6. Aces (5): Mosher 3, K. Fitzgerald 2. Digs (49): Riege 15, Mosher 14, Schneider 9.
Records: LCA 31-3, W 31-11.