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Teamwork has Big Foot volleyball making big plans

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Mike Ramczyk
October 18, 2007
— Walworth Big Foot High School is banking on playing a winning hand to earn a berth in the WIAA Division 2 state volleyball tournament.

For the Chiefs (25-8 overall, 13-1 Rock Valley), who have a No. 2 regional seed, losing is not in their vocabulary.


The Rock Valley Conference champions have eight seniors who have lost just three conference matches during their varsity careers.


Coach Jen Stelling said her team has gained momentum she hopes will carry the Chiefs to the Resch Center in Green Bay on Nov. 1.


“We had a strong finish, beating Brodhead to clinch the conference title,” said Stelling. “The key is starting strong, and our girls don’t get rattled easily.”


Big Foot added to its momentum Tuesday by sweeping Union Grove, 3-0, in a regional opener and hosts third-seeded Whitnall in tonight’s semifinals.


Teamwork and unselfish play have fueled the Chiefs. Almost every match, Big Foot has different statistical leaders in kills and aces.


Senior tri-captains Kim Dowden, Kaylee Kolnik and Kristin Collins agree that the teamwork is off the chart.


“We have played together for a long time, and we get along very well,” Kolnik said. “We thrive off of each other’s energy, and we know where each other is going to be on the court.’’


Dowden and Collins are outside hitters, and Kolnik is the libero. They are joined by seniors Vanessa Walker (outside hitter), Kate Chappell (middle blocker), Kelsey Morris (outside hitter), Hope Fay (outside hitter) and Kasey Keeler (middle blocker).


Collins wants the eight seniors to have a lasting memory of this season.


“We know that the postseason is what we’re going to be remembered for,” said Collins. “We all work hard for one another, and this is our last chance.”


While size matters in volleyball, the Chiefs don’t list a player taller than the 5-foot-11 Keeler, and they must rely on team chemistry and savvy to defeat bigger and stronger opponents.


The Chiefs had their mettle tested en route to winning their second straight Rock Valley title. They pulled out a 3-2 win over eventual runner-up Edgerton to start the conference season, then got swept 3-0 by the Crimson Tide, but battled back against Brodhead, the third contender.


Big Foot defeated Brodhead soundly in the first meeting. In the rematch, Brodhead was up 2-1, but the Chiefs finished with victories in the last two games to win the match.


The Chiefs finished 13-1 in the conference, followed by Edgerton (12-2) and Brodhead (11-3).


“The girls didn’t quit,’’ Stelling said of the pivotal late-season battle with Brodhead. “They don’t get real panicked. We tried to take care of our side, and we wanted to force them to make errors.”


It’s fun to win, and the players know how to act goofy, like getting fired up dancing to the song “Crank That Soulja Boy.” But when it’s time to get down to business, Big Foot is at its best.


Stelling thinks the team can advance because the Chiefs’ sectional does not include Jefferson, the perennial Southern Lakes Conference power. She said that will give her team one less tough opponent to worry about.


“We need to get through the first two rounds, but I’m optimistic that we will have success if the girls play the way they can,” Stelling said of Chiefs.


“We’re like a family. What makes me the most proud is that they all care about each other, and despite their different opinions, they are all positive and work together to be successful.”


And the Chiefs have another Rock Valley trophy in the bank as proof of their success.



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