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October 24, 2017

Rhinelander’s Makayla Kuester bumps the ball during a match against Lakeland at the Great Northern Conference volleyball tournament at Northland Pines High School in Eagle River Saturday, Oct. 7. (Bob Mainhardt for the River News)
Rhinelander’s Makayla Kuester bumps the ball during a match against Lakeland at the Great Northern Conference volleyball tournament at Northland Pines High School in Eagle River Saturday, Oct. 7. (Bob Mainhardt for the River News)
10/10/2017 7:32:00 AM
Hodags go 1-2 at GNC volleyball tourney

Jeremy Mayo
Sports Editor

The roles reversed for the Rhinelander High School volleyball team on Saturday against two teams it defeated earlier in the season.

Northland Pines completed a comeback to defeat the Hodags in five sets and Antigo swept the Hodags in three games as Rhinelander went 1-2 in the second GNC tournament of the season at the NPHS fieldhouse in Eagle River.

The results were mirror images of matches in Rhinelander earlier this season. The Hodags fended off a Pines comeback to win a five-setter back on Sept. 19 and swept Antigo in three sets on Sept. 7.

Rhinelander's only reprise performance came in the final match of the day when it easily swept the last-place Lakeland Thunderbirds.

"We didn't come out really to play in that first game and it took us a while to get going," RHS volleyball coach Kathy Wawrzynowicz said afterward.

That sluggish start cost the Hodags in the first set against Northland Pines, which it dropped 25-15. The Hodags won a back-and-fourth second set 26-24 and took the third 25-20. Pines responded in the fourth with a 25-19 win and took the fifth 15-11.

Rhinelander had a 9-7 lead in the final set before Northland Pines rattled off eight of the final 10 points.

"It could have gone either way but, unfortunately (standout Northland Pines sophomore hitter) Jacquiline Smith ended up in the front row when (standout Rhinelander senior hitter) Hope (Wissbroecker) was in the back row and they took advantage of the last couple points," Wawrzynowicz said.

Rhinelander dropped a couple of close sets with Antigo to start, 25-22 and 25-23, before being routed 25-18 in the third.

"We had opportunities to win those first two games," Wawrzynowicz said. "We had leads. Antigo made their share of mistakes too and it was just back and forth. Unfortunately, we couldn't put the ball away. After losing those first two games we were just deflated and really, really flat. We didn't get a lot of production, really, out of anybody because we just weren't talking, weren't communicating. I think they were tired. We were on the court a long time."

The Hodags appeared rejuvenated following the lunch break as they routed Lakeland 25-8, 25-11, 25-17.

"They really did come out and played probably the best that I've seen them play in a while," Wawrzynowicz said. "In the third game we got a little sloppy at the end, but we did what we were supposed to do against Lakeland. I was pleased with that."

Wissbroecker recorded 47 kills, seven blocks and five service aces on the day. Molly Wagler added nine kills and three blocks, while Brooke Mork had eight kills. Makayla Kuester had 41 assists, Ally Seefeldt had 31 assists, Stephanie Kuester recorded 76 digs and Cami Buchmann had a team-high six service aces on 36 of 38 serving.

The Hodags (14-16, 5-6 Great Northern) will close out the conference season tonight at home against Medford. First serve is set for 7 p.m. at the Jim Miazga Community Gymnasium.

Jeremy Mayo may be reached at

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