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Prep Volleyball Division 1 Regionals | Chi-Hi 3, Hudson 0

Watch Now: Prep Volleyball Division 1 Regionals: Chi-Hi sweeps Hudson for first title since 2014

Hudson at Chi-Hi volleyball 10-23-21

The Chi-Hi volleyball team celebrates after winning a Division 1 regional championship on Saturday at Chi-Hi.

The Chi-Hi volleyball team worked quickly on Saturday evening to claim a Division 1 regional championship with a straight-set win over Hudson (25-14, 25-10, 25-15) at Chi-Hi.

The Cardinals (36-2) advance to Thursday’s sectional semifinals and will face Marshfield at Wausau West.

The home team came out ready to go and rarely trailed en route to the sweep. Sophie Robinson and Paige Steinmetz each had 10 kills to lead the offense, while Maddie Hunt added five. Robinson also added four of the team’s 14 aces and nine digs. Bella Murry and Paige Steinmetz had a pair of solo blocks and block assists apiece.

The performance of the front row players was all the more important, as junior Sami Perlberg left the game in the first set and didn’t return. The sophomore Robinson took on a bigger share of the offense and found success with her swings finding the floor near the back of the Hudson defense.

“She (Robinson) started a little slow right away but really turned it on, and what I really loved was when Sami Perlberg got hurt she was like, ‘I’ve got this, give me the ball.’ And Maddy Bauer was like, ‘Sounds good,’ and set her all over the court,” Chi-Hi coach Luke Heidtke said. “It’s really hard to defend when we can set multiple places on the court.”

Chi-Hi was playing in its first match since a loss to River Falls in the Big Rivers Conference finale on Oct. 14. The team’s No. 2 seed in the sectional earned the Cardinals a bye into the regional finals, so with nine days between matches Heidtke and his team focused on hard, competitive practices to stay sharp.

A stretch of 11 out of 13 points in the first set helped the Cardinals pull away to an opening victory, and Chi-Hi maintained the momentum from there on.

“We just had to push through the adversity tonight and work together as a team,” Chi-Hi senior defensive specialist Isabelle Eslinger said.

Senior libero Ella Hutzler led the Cardinals with 17 kills followed by Robinson’s nine, Steinmetz’s eight and seven by Perlberg.

The match fittingly ended with a Robinson kill, setting off a spirited celebration as the Cardinals sealed the program’s first regional title since 2014.

“You could see it in the celebration of the team,” Heidtke said of the impact of the regional title. “We’ve been talking and we talked this week that this hasn’t happened in seven years at Chi-Hi and that’s not something that we’re really happy about. We want it where we’re contending year after year. They wanted to change that, and they did all the hard work to make that happen tonight.”

Chi-Hi put together a stellar regular season with tournament wins at Merrill, Waupun, Bloomer and Wisconsin Dells and a second-place finish out of 40 teams early on at the UW-Stout Sprawl in Menomonie. The season has built upon a successful, albeit short, 11-3 COVID-19 impacted campaign in 2020.

The Cardinals are back in sectionals for the first time since 2014, when the program fell in a spirited five-set thriller to Marathon, one year after the Cardinals advanced to the sectional finals.

Chi-Hi now turns its attention to the third-seeded Tigers after Marshfield (32-8) earned a regional championship sweep of its own by defeating Menomonie. The Cardinals defeated the Tigers in three sets at a season-opening event hosted by the Cardinals back on Aug. 24.

The matchup will be the second of two to take place at Wausau West with top-seeded River Falls facing off against five seed D.C. Everest in the first semifinal of the night at 5 p.m.

The two winners will face off next Saturday at Chi-Hi with a sectional championship and trip to the Division 1 state tournament on the line.

“We’ve just got to keep pushing and keep working hard,” Hutzler said.


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