The Oregon student section looked like they just got back from a hard day of work.
Dress pants, blazers and ties, the Panthers’ loudest cheering section had it all.
Just like its student section, the Oregon volleyball team took care of business on Thursday, Oct. 21, sweeping rival Stoughton 3-0 in a WIAA Division 1 regional semifinal match at Oregon High School.
“Our big theme was taking care of business,” Oregon head coach Jenn Grukle said. “They (student section) quite literally came out and took care of business for us in their lovely gear. But it was really great to play in that kind of atmosphere and that fed into some of our comebacks and being able to finish out the match.”
Oregon won the match 25-23, 25-18, 25-18.
In the regional final, it was top-seeded Burlington taking care of business against Oregon with a 3-0 victory on Saturday, Oct. 23, in Burlington.
The Demons topped the Panthers (13-21) 25-12, 25-21, 25-21.
Oregon 3, Stoughton 0
“We just put everything together that we started all year,” Grukle said. “We had bits and pieces of really great serving, passing, hitting and blocking throughout the season, but we really never put it all together like we did tonight.”
Back-to-back aces from senior Hannah Folmer gave No. 8-seed Oregon a 7-5 lead early in the first set. Stoughton — seeded No. 9 — went on to tie the set at 11-11, but a 6-2 run made it 17-13 Panthers, forcing the first timeout of the game from the Vikings.
Up 18-14, Oregon freshman Sophie Tsai came up with a pair of timely kills to extend the advantage to 20-14.
“We knew she (Tsai) was able to do this,” Grukle said. “She just showcased it all tonight.”
It looked like the Panthers would cruise to a first-set win when they led 24-19. But four straight points, capped off by an ace from Stoughton junior Brianna Radecke, made it 24-23.
A point away from tying, the set ended on a Stoughton error.
“Once you win that first set, it gives you all the energy you need,” Tsai said. “Volleyball is a game of energy. The bench helped so much with that.”
The second set was tied at 16-16, but Oregon went on a 5-1 spurt to take a 21-17 lead and never looked back.
The service from Oregon junior Maggie Ast — who connected on two aces — got the Panthers out to a 6-0 lead in the third set. Oregon led the rest of the way to claim the regional semifinal match.
Junior Coco Barnett finished with a team-high 10 kills, while junior Maggie Templeton added six. Tsai collected five kills in the victory to go along with three digs, two aces and a block.
Ast had a team-best four aces, while Templeton led the defense with three blocks. Senior Isa Hayde also helped out the defense with 18 digs. Junior Hannah Council paced the offense with 12 assists.
“We did a team bonding thing in the beginning,” Tsai said. “We wrote on our arms, ‘It takes everyone.’ It was a match where we all had to work together.”
It was the second time this season that Oregon topped Stoughton. The Panthers also beat the Vikings 2-1 on Sept. 25.
Burlington 3, Oregon 0
Folmer and junior Sara Janecek led Oregon with four kills each in the loss. Council and Tsai both added two aces. Barnett finished with a team-high five blocks. Hayde collected 13 digs, while Council ended with six assists in the season-ending loss.