Surprising no more, Germantown boys volleyball team wins second NSC title
Warhawks enter WIAA tourney a top sectional seed
Germantown - The novelty has worn off for the Germantown boys volleyball team, which made a splash by winning the North Shore Conference title and surprisingly advancing all the way to the WIAA state semifinals last year.
But the excitement is still there, as the Warhawks, fueled by expectations both internal and external, cruised to their second straight North Shore title Oct. 17, with a surprisingly easy 25-16, 25-14, 25-15 rout of rival Nicolet.
With the win, the tall and on occasion dominant Warhawks finished the season at 6-0 in league duals and are ready for the upcoming WIAA playoff series where they have earned the top seed in the Arrowhead sectional bracket.
"It's more of a younger team this year," said 6-11 senior outside hitter Luke Fischer, one of the veterans of last year's run whose frequent thunderous spikes energized the home crowd in the Germantown gym against Nicolet. "But we get along well. The thing for us, though, is that coach (Brian) Rushmer expects us to do well (and) to build on last year.
"And we don't expect anything less from ourselves."
First goal achieved
That much is true. The Warhawks lost a great deal off that great 2011 team, but their level of achievement hasn't fallen off.
"There's been a lot more pressure on them this year," Rushmer said. "We've got the first goal (conference), and now we'll see what happens."
The Warhawks, who have spent most of the season ranked in the state's top 10, will get a first-round WIAA tournament bye, and Rushmer has scheduled a four-team scrimmage on the day of that bye (Friday) in order for the team to stay sharp. They will then host a sectional semifinal on Tuesday, Oct. 30, with sectional finals slated for Nov. 1 at Arrowhead.
Returnees are dominant
The "three big returnees" are all big indeed. All are veterans of the state championship boys basketball team of last season, but all have also elevated their volleyball experience as well.
Fischer (11 kills, three blocks and five aces), who will attend Indiana next fall on a basketball scholarship, has been a classic finisher, the "go-to" guy when the Warhawks are in trouble.
Jon Averkamp (eight digs), a 6-6 junior middle hitter, played club volleyball all summer and sharpened his all-around game considerably. He leads the team in digs this fall.
And 6-2 junior Jake Showalter has had to make a big adjustment. He was the team's setter last year, but with the Warhawks' top two outside hitters (Matt Schultz and Tom Andrus) now graduated, he shifted to that spot to help take up some of the offensive slack.
"Luke can be just over the top sometimes," Rushmer said. "Ideally, we run our offense through Jon with help from Jake, but Luke just changes the pace of the game all the time. His block is an amazing thing and when he chooses to really jump, his head is completely over the top of the net."
Rushmer has also been pleased with the development of other players, such as new setter junior Jacob Reynolds and feisty sophomore libero Cullen Liberski, who at 5-3 provides a stark contrast to Fischer for this tall, but diverse team.
"With our height, we can provide some real matchup problems for other teams," Averkamp said. "We've been working hard trying to prove ourselves this fall."
Warhawks want more
They all but did that in a spectacular way a few weeks ago, when they almost took out defending state champion Marquette in the final of the Middleton Tournament. The Warhawks, who had lost to the Hilltoppers in a competitive four games last fall in the WIAA state semifinals, lost two, two-point games to Marquette in that Middleton final.
"We were a little upset that we weren't able to beat them (Marquette)," Showalter said. "We'd really like to show who's the better team. Get back to state and do even better this time, because we now know that we can compete with the best.
"So far this feels great. We're having a lot of fun out there."
Warhawks ready for WIAA run
Arrowhead sectional field set
SCHEDULE - Regional finals Friday: fifth-seeded Neenah at fourth seeded Nicolet and sixth-seeded Homestead at third-seeded Fond du Lac. Sectional semifinals Oct. 30: Neenah/Nicolet winner at top seeded Germantown (7 p.m.); Fond du Lac/ Homestead winner at second-seeded Arrowhead (7 p.m.). Sectional final Nov. 1: 7 p.m. at Arrowhead.
WIAA State Tournament - Nov. 9 and 10 at Wisconsin Lutheran College.
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