Janesville48°

State volleyball competition likely won’t surprise Big Foot

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JOHN N. BARRY
November 3, 2011
— It’s no fluke that Walworth Big Foot High School’s girls volleyball team is playing at state.

The Chiefs enter Friday’s WIAA Division 2 state semifinal match against Waukesha Catholic Memorial with a 40-4 record. Eight of those matches came against Division 1 schools, including a 2-1 loss to top-ranked Burlington. Three of Big Foot’s four losses this season came against state qualifiers Burlington, Catholic Memorial and Burlington Catholic Central.


Big Foot coach Jen Stelling said the formidable schedule has paid big dividends.


“By playing such a tough schedule, the girls never allowed themselves to get too comfortable,” Stelling said. “They knew they had to come ready to play almost each and every match.


“Getting to state was always the No. 1 goal, and now that we’re there, we feel like we have nothing to lose. But I know no one is satisfied to just get to state. They want a gold ball.”


An undersized but athletic eight-player rotation has made life miserable for Big Foot opponents. The Chiefs present a myriad of problems because there is no weak spot for teams to exploit.


The back row keeps balls in play. The front row can attack from all angles.


How balanced are the Chiefs up front? So well that four players have 200 or more kills. Senior Annie Kunes, a University of Texas-San Antonio recruit, leads the team with 296 kills. Senior Meghan Schneider has 269, sophomore Amy Schryver 255 and junior Sydney Racky 231.


Setter Katarina Rotta has made the majority of those kills possible. The junior has 911 of the team’s 1,148 assists, including 41 in the sectional final win over Richland Center.


“Everything seems so effortless for ‘Kat’ on the court,” Stelling said of Rotta. “She’s such a hard worker and such an asset to the team.


“And up front, even though we’re so undersized, those four are all capable of making plays. If a team tries to concentrate on one of them, the other three have found a way to step up.”


Catholic Memorial (41-6) presents a stern test in Friday’s semifinal match. The Crusaders are the two-time defending Division 2 champion and are making their sixth overall appearance. Catholic Memorial also won the championship in 2006 and finished second in 2008.


Big Foot and Catholic Memorial played last month at the Westosha Central Smash Tournament. The Crusaders won the match 2-1, despite the Chiefs serving on match-point in the decisive third game.


“They’re real big up front,” Stelling said of Catholic Memorial. “They hit it real hard, and we’re going to have to play defense out of our minds.


“And they’ve been there before and we haven’t. That makes us the underdog, but I don’t think the girls mind. All they care about is winning a gold ball.”


Two more wins in what has been a magical season, and the Walworth Big Foot girls volleyball team will have that gold ball.



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