Teammates celebrate with senior Olivia Dir (1) after she scored a point for Union Grove during a Nov. 7 WIAA Division 1 state quarterfinal match against Burlington at the Resch Center in Green Bay (Jason Arndt/Southern Lakes Newspapers).

Grove senior part of unforgettable season

By Tim Wester
Correspondent

There wasn’t a single game, spike, or dig where Union Grove senior Olivia Dir realized her team was headed to an unforgettable season.

Somewhere between her team’s pre-game line dancing ritual and taking the court before a match, the school’s all-time leader in kills saw a sea of red and black in her high school gym and realized she was a part of something special.

Dir and the Broncos certainly didn’t let the Bronco faithful down after finishing 41-6 and earning a trip to the WIAA Division State Tournament in Green Bay.

“Our confidence grew when we had people start coming to our court to see us play,” said Dir, who was one of three Broncos to break individual school records this season. “I said ‘wow people actually want to see us play.”

Dir entered high school with an unrelenting goal of making the school record books in volleyball. She finally accomplished her goal breaking the school’s all-time kills record the same night the Broncos qualified for state with a 3-1 victory over Kenosha Indian Trail in a sectional final game at Waterford. Dir now sets the pace with 1610 career kills.

“It was just a great night,” Dir recalled. “To celebrate going to state and breaking the kills record on the same night, you couldn’t ask for more.”

“Olivia’s honor is a reflection of her team’s effort by great passing and setting throughout her time at Union Grove,” Union Grove coach Annie Sireno said. “When the match was close and we needed a point, we knew that we could count on Olivia to get the job done.”

Dir’s remarkable career was encapsulated in her final match against Burlington at the Resch Center in Green Bay.

The 2018 state champions plowed through the competition, including Union Grove, in the regular season and were poised to win another state title.

But Dir wasn’t intimidated when the fifth-seeded Broncos were slotted to battle fourth-seeded Burlington in an opening match at the state tournament thanks to an unimaginative tournament pairing committee.

“It was very weird had to play Burlington again,” Dir said. “But I thought it was a good thing because it’s our rival and we wanted to beat them, and it gave us excitement to get the chance to do it at state.”

The confident Dir delivered one of her finest games of her career with 20 kills to help the Broncos win the second and third sets 25-20, 25-21 respectively to end up just one set away from dethroning the Demons. But the defending champs had just enough to rebound and won the final two sets 25-12, 15-10 to escape the Broncos’ upset grip.

“I realized that Burlington could be my last game, so I left it all out there on the court,” Dir said. “It was a really a great match and the best volleyball match that I’ve ever played in.”

Dir’s elevated play certainly impressed her coach.

“Olivia had a strong performance in the postseason this year, specifically, the state match,” Sireno said.

Although Burlington was her last high school volleyball match, there’s plenty of volleyball left for Dir. The senior now turns her focus to club volleyball as a member of the Wisconsin Juniors Club team, where she has been a player since the age of 14.

The Wisconsin Juniors, which are based in Pleasant Prairie, has become a pipeline for Union Grove players including UW-Milwaukee standout Kylee Wilks. Dir’s teammates Karlee Lois, Kelsey Henderson, and Lainy Pettit also play on the team.

Then in the summer, Dir plays beach volleyball with Lois in Racine and Chicago.

“Volleyball is a year around sport for me,” Dir said. “I love it.”

Dir credits Sireno, club volleyball coach and mentor Scott Marita as instrumental in her development. Her coaches’ influence has helped Dir earn academic and athletic scholarships at NCAA Division 2 Northwest Missouri State.

“An assistant coach from Northwest Missouri State saw me at a club tournament and inquired about me,” Dir said. “I went on a visit to the campus and loved the academics and the athletics.

Dir plans to major in Food Science in college to focus on the chemistry aspect of nutrition.

Dir may be headed out of state for school, but she is not going to forget her roots at Union Grove.

“I want to keep helping underclassman out after I’m gone,” Dir said. “It’s important that they know that the alumni are always there to support them just like the alumni supported us.”

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in the Nov. 15 print edition of the Westine Report.