Tomah and Onalaska looked like they might be on their way to another five-game epic until the Timberwolves lost control of the second game.
The Hilltoppers rallied from a 13-5 deficit in the second game, which set the tone for a 25-19, 25-23, 25-16 decision over the Timberwolves Thursday in a Mississippi Valley volleyball match at Tomah High School.
The Timberwolves fell to 5-5 in the MVC, while the Hilltoppers improved to 7-4 and avenged a five-game loss to Tomah Sept. 7 in Onalaska.
Onalaska controlled the first game, but the Timberwolves got off to a fast start in the second game. They led 7-1 and pushed the lead to 12-4 on an Ella Plueger kill. The lead was still 13-5 before the Hilltoppers began chipping away at the deficit. They took their first lead of the game at 21-20, but Tomah regained the advantage at 23-22 when Abby Wagenson delivered a block kill.
The Hilltoppers called timeout and returned to the court to score the next three points for a 2-0 match lead.
“It was frustrating for them when the momentum switched and we couldn’t get a grasp on getting it back,” Tomah coach Sarah Walters said. “Our talking stopped and we just lost control of the match.”
In the third game, the Hilltoppers were leading 11-10 when they launched a 9-1 run that put the match out of reach.
Walters said her team struggled to finish points and didn’t react well when Onalaska kept rallies alive.
“We just needed to be smarter with every point,” Walters said. “It doesn’t have to be a huge kill, but we have to be smart with the ball, and normally these girls are smart with the ball.”
A bright spot for the Timberwolves was the play of libero Madisyn Brey, who had 15 digs and was responsible for keeping several long rallies alive, even if the Timberwolves didn’t win them all.
“(Brey) is doing a great job in the back picking up balls,” Walters said. “She has really done a nice job in that role.”
Reis Derousseau was Tomah’s leading hitter with 10 kills. She also had 11 digs.
Savannah Murphy added eight kills.
Lily Redcloud led the setters with 12 assists and six digs. Abbey Larsen had nine assists, while Madison Lindauer had five blocks.
Emma Gamoke had 12 kills and 12 digs to lead the Hilltoppers.
Both the junior varsity and varsity reserves squads lost their matches to Onalaska.
Tomah’s final regular-season home match of the season is Tuesday against league-leading La Crosse Aquinas. The varsity reserve and junior varsity matches start at 5:30 p.m. followed by the varsity at 7 p.m.
Results of Oct. 5
Onalaska def. Tomah 25-19, 25-23, 25-16
Sparta def. Central 25-14, 25-20, 25-11
Aquinas def. Holmen 18-25, 20-25, 25-22, 25-23, 15-9