Because they’re played in the off-season, summer league sports are sometimes less intense than those contested during the regular high school season.
But don’t tell that to Teri Derousseau and the Tomah High School volleyball team.
The Lady Timberwolf spikers brought all kinds of intensity to the court Friday on their way to the team title at a 16-team varsity tournament in Black River Falls.
Tomah finished second in its four-team pool in preliminary-round play, but turned it up a notch after that to win four straight and capture the championship in a 16-team seeded tournament that followed.
“The girls have been working hard at open gyms, summer league, tournaments and a Badger volleyball camp to build chemistry. We lost both of our setters from last year and the Libero is in question, so there are a lot of positions up for grabs this fall,” offered Derousseau, Tomah’s summer volleyball coach.
“I feel like they’ve been playing their best ball the past couple of weeks,” she continued. “They’re getting to the point where we can give (Tomah varsity volleyball coach Sarah Walters) some input and she can take it from there.”
The tournament was the second in as many weeks for Tomah, who made it to the semifinal round of a 16-team tournament at La Crosse Logan a week earlier before falling to eventual champion Holmen.
The Lady Timberwolves opened pool play in Black River Falls with a 25-13, 25-14 thumping of Whitehall, before falling 25-18 and 25-24 to host Black River Falls in the second round.
Tomah bounced back in the third round of pool play with a 25-12, 25-9 defeat of North Crawford to finish second in its pool and earn the fifth seed in the bracket tournament held to determine an overall champion.
The first two rounds of tourney play were determined by a one-set race to 25.
Tomah opened with a 25-21 victory over Whitehall and advanced to the semifinals with a 25-19 defeat of Bangor.
The next two rounds were determined by a best-of-three match.
Tomah won the first set against Royall 25-22, and the Panthers decided to forfeit the next match, leaving the Lady Timberwolf with a win and a spot in the finals against Hillsboro.
Tomah came out on top 25-23 in a hard-fought battle with Hillsboro in the first set of the best-of-three match, but the Tigers evened the score with a 25-22 defeat of the Lady Timberwolves in the second set.
True to form, the match remained tight in the third set as well, but Tomah was able to earn a 15-13 win to capture the crown.
Derousseau liked the intensity of her team down the stretch.
“We’ve been trying as a team to get away from that summer mentality. We go out there looking to get better every day – there is no off-season,” she said.
“These last wins have been huge for our confidence,” continued Derousseau. “These girls work hard to get better and, hopefully, it will carry over into the high school season.”