By Mike Ramczyk
An underdog all season, the Burlington girls volleyball team saved its best for the postseason.
In early November, the Lady Demons, buoyed by the disqualification of top-seeded Westosha Central, took their No. 2 spot to the state tournament with ease.
But at the state tourney, nobody could’ve predicted Burlington would’ve overcome a 2-0 deficit to knock off the defending state champs, set a state serving record and make it all the way to the state title game.
With several big-name stars gone, the Lady Demons relied on the team concept and nearly shocked the world, but Neenah swept them in the final.
Here’s an excerpt from the original story:
They weren’t the tallest team.
They weren’t the most powerful.
Heck, they weren’t even a No. 1 seed.
Nonetheless, the Burlington girls varsity volleyball team is the WIAA Division 1 state runner-up, thanks to a memorable, and somewhat improbable state tournament run last weekend.
While the 6-foot thumping outside hitters weren’t there like in years past, coach Teri Leach said it all after Saturday’s three-set championship game defeat.
“This is one of the best definitions of a team that I’ve seen come through our program,” she said.
After No. 1 seed Westosha Central was disqualified from playoff competition due to a rules violation, No. 2 Burlington, which defeated Westosha in the Southern Lakes Conference tournament took over as the favorite from the area.
The Lady Demons breezed through the sectional, but after not finishing in their usual top place at any of the area’s most competitive tournaments this season, state would be a steep challenge for unranked Burlington against state-ranked opponents.
Burlington was as good as done, down 2-0 in its first state match to defending state champ Divine Savior Holy Angels Nov. 4 in Green Bay.
But the Demons stormed back with solid defense and improved hitting to pull off the comeback.
In the next match, against Menomonee Falls, Burlington kept the momentum going, and in the four-set victory set a state serving record with 15 aces as a team.
By the final Saturday, Neenah was too big and powerful, and the Demons couldn’t find answers to slow them down.
Leach said no matter what Burlington threw at the Rockets, the state champs stayed in system and persevered.
Burlington kept fighting, and the squad was greeted by the city’s finest from the police and fire departments Saturday night with an escort through downtown.
When the dust settled, it was the program’s eighth state appearance, third title game and first runner-up trophy.
In 2016, Burlington found its rhythm at the conference tournament, and the magical run nearly resulted in a third state championship.