Burlington, Catholic Central both win state titles, celebrate together in city parade

Members of the Burlington and Catholic Central volleyball teams pose with their state championship trophies in early November at Burlington High School. (Jake Hill/SLN)

 

By Mike Ramczyk

sports@southernlakesnewspapers.com

The city of Burlington is back on top in the world of high school volleyball, and in 2018 Catholic Central joined the party.

What began as a historical accomplishment in the beginning of the decade repeated itself, and could perhaps become a trend next year.

For the third time in eight years, the varsity girls volleyball teams from both Burlington and Catholic Central high schools won the WIAA state volleyball championship.

It is unquestionably the 2018 Top Sports Story of the Burlington Standard Press.

While the Demons completed a back-to-back run in D1, the Lady Toppers returned to Division 4 supremacy thanks to a change of the guard.

Athletic Director Tom Aldrich called up longtime local coaching guru Wayne Schultz, who was chilling at home in Twin Lakes after finally retiring as head coach of the Westosha Central boys program.

Schultz was the “godfather” of Westosha boys volleyball and has worked with area youth boys and girls for two decades, preaching fundamentals and strong work ethic from an early age.

Prompted into retirement from a desire to spend more time with his grandchildren, Schultz couldn’t resist an opportunity to take a good team to the next level – and he achieved that in spades.

It started with a conference crown followed by a nerve-wracking sectional that saw the Lady Toppers win two five-set thrillers.

But the tests proved beneficial, as the grooving Toppers zipped through the field for two easy victories and a gold ball at the state tournament in Green Bay in November.

Burlington’s journey was about motivation and competitive spirit as much as anything.

The talent was still there from a 2017 title, so all Teri Leach and Dan Lynch had to do was get everyone on the same page and work toward a common goal of winning again, though the Classic 8 Conference alone provided three worthy contenders in Green Bay.

But much like the Lady Demons always do, they come up biggest on the grandest of stages, and senior leaders like Grace Peyron and Maddie Berezowitz helped lead the girls to the volleyball promised land.

Kaley Blake provided the offensive guidance and pinpoint passing, while Emily Alan and others provided an impenetrable block at the net.

The result was a dominant state semifinal and final after grinding out a five-set quarterfinal win over Arrowhead.

Perhaps the most interesting moment of it all was the parade, which has become a staple for state-winning teams in Burlington thanks in large part to Mayor Jeannie Hefty.

Inclement weather forced the Monday evening community event to be held indoors, so a rare scene with Topper blue and Demon orange livened the Burlington High School gymnasium two days after the tournament.

Players were introduced and cheered on by the hundreds in attendance, and two school communities that have had sports differences in the part united for one unforgettable night.

 

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