Brodhead coach Erin Kammerer is more than willing to talk about her volleyball team.
Just don’t expect much of a response if you ask her about individual players.
It has been that way for the duration of Kammerer’s coaching career, which began in 2010 when she took the reins of the Cardinal program.
She has had many standout players over the years. Carly Mohns and Rachel Heller helped anchor the 2013 team that last qualified for the WIAA state tournament.
In more recent years, Abbie Johnson was a multi-time first-team all-Rock Valley Conference player.
But Kammerer’s focus is always on team—and what a team she has this WIAA alternate fall season.
The Cardinals were given the No. 1 seed in the Division 2 state tournament Wednesday. They will take on fouth-seeded Royall at 7 p.m. tonight in Beaver Dam in a state semifinal, and Kammerer wants to talk team.
“People talk about Abbie Dix being a great player, and she is,” Kammerer said. “But she wouldn’t have the opportunity to shine unless everyone on this team digs in. Somebody has to get that first ball; somebody has to make that pass to her.
“That’s where we live on this team, from top to bottom. I’ve got kids on this team that didn’t get a chance to perform last night that beat our starters in practice on Monday night. Without those kids, we don’t beat Laconia. They are the ones that are putting the pressure on my starters and blocking ... them every day in practice. That’s real volleyball, man.”
The Cardinals come to state battle-tested, including winning a five-set thriller over top-ranked Laconia in a sectional final that nearly turned Tuesday night into Wednesday morning by the time the Cardinals got back into town.
“One strength that my team really has is that they can gain experience live,” Kammerer said. “When they’ve seen a few shots, when they’ve watched the other team’s offense, they can make in-game adjustments that can give our team an advantage. If there’s an issue, they can see it and fix it.
“Laconia was just a huge team. Their power and their block, that’s not something we’ve seen much this year. That first set was a reality check for us that we have to play ball. And for the rest of the match these girls got gritty and they were ready to fight all night. They served them out of system, stayed aggressive and got after it.”
The Cardinals opened sectional play by rather easily dismissing Columbus in three sets, giving them an edge heading into the finals.
“The girls really had to stay focused in that first match to get the job done,” Kammerer said. “To do it in three was huge. It got the jitters out of the way. To go to a tournament, sometimes you have to play six times. Two matches is tough on a team but it’s not unspeakable, so to get that first one done quickly was important.”
After the final match was complete and the postgame photos were taken, the Cardinals settled in for a cheery ride home.
“It was an energetic ride, definitely,” Kammerer said. “This group of girls didn’t even know if they were going to get a season, let alone a postseason. Their mantra all year has been to work hard, and when an opportunity presents itself make some magic.
“That’s how we ended up where we’re ending up.”