The jubilant post-match huddle for the Germantown girls volleyball team had one simple catchphrase as its breaker Thursday night.
"Three down, one to go!"
That statement meant that the Warhawks, after their 25-11, 25-17, 25-19 rout of host Waukesha West in a WIAA sectional semifinal, are in the same position they were last year, on the brink of state, with one more match to win.
Germantown, the sectional's second seed, will play at top-seeded Watertown at 7 p.m. Saturday for the right to advance to next week's WIAA state tournament in Green Bay. Watertown had to work to beat stubborn Mukwonago in five games to advance to the final.
After last year's wrenching five-game loss to rival Menomonee Falls in the sectional final kept them from a state berth then, these Warhawks are not going to be denied now.
"We're very excited," said senior middle hitter Taylor Edmonds, who led the team with 22 assists. "We made it to this game last year and we will be coming in with high confidence. We've been working hard ever since the Nicolet match (a tough dual meet loss several weeks ago). It showed us that we could lose if we don't finish.
"But we've gotten better and we've shown we have a lot of fight in us."
Germantown later won a share of the North Shore Conference title with Nicolet.
"We're just going to bring more fire to the table this time," said junior outside hitter Megan Johnston, who led the team with 15 kills.
Germantown is seeking its first state tournament berth since 2005 and its fourth overall Saturday night.
Veteran coach Diane Harrod remains cautiously optimisitc.
"It feels good," she said. "It's what we've wanted all season. Now we're just hoping that the results are a little better this time around."
There was little doubt in the results that were coming from this semifinal effort against the enthusiastic, but overmatched sixth-seed from West.
Germantown broke out to a 15-5 first game lead and then never looked back. In the second game, it was 5-5, but then the Warhawks used their diverse attack to score 10 of the next 11 points and easily pull away.
In the third contest, the Warhawks were a bit flat at the start, falling behind 6-1, but then they scored 10 straight to take control for good.
As they normally do, the Warhawks utilized a number of different attackers, especially Johnston, Edmonds, Emma Brunkhorst and Erika Swoboda, in a very fluid and dynamic offensive set that often had West guessing.
"That way, everyone has big numbers," said Edmonds. "It's a lot of fun when it's going well like that."
"Our top playing ability comes when we're connecting well," said Harrod, "and we were just able to work our plays over and over again. We connected very well tonight."
Marisa Moser added 20 digs while Paige Groth had four aces for Germantown.
Now the task for the Warhawks will be to finish the work that was started in 2010.
"We were just so close last year," said Edmonds.
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