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Congrats to the Oconto Blue Devils on making it to state! Represent the Packerland well!
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Volleyball: Sectional title means trip to Resch
Blue Devils earn trip to state volleyball tourney

Oconto?s volleyball team continued rolling through the postseason, defeating Spencer to claim the section crown and advance the state tournament this weekend.

Like they have in the previous three matches of the tournament, the Blue Devils swept their opponent, this time 25-22, 25-21, 27-25 in the WIAA Division 3 sectional championship at Marathon.

?They were very confident and we took care of business the way we have we had been all season,? said coach Nancee Bucheger.

Spencer kept things close, but once each game reached crunch time, te Blue Devils? two-headed power threat of senior Sara DePouw and junior Laken James took over.

DePouw, who has committed to play next year at NCAA Division I Bryant University, was unstoppable at the net after Spencer had rallied from a six-point deficit to close within 22-21. A crosscourt slice kill by the 6-foot-1 hitter put the finishing touches on Game 1 for Oconto.

Stopping her at the net was tough enough, but DePouw may have caused the Rockets even more problems with a powerful, dipping jump serve.

?No. 6 (DePouw) and No. 5 (James) have a lot of power, they can really hit the ball,? said Spencer coach Buff Heller. ?We struggled more with their serve and couldn?t set up our attack.?

Game 2 was an instant replay as the team battled back-and-forth. With the scored tied at 20-20, DePouw, who finished with 23 kills, turned to her serve, picking up a couple aces during a late run that enabled Oconto to close out the game.

James added 12 kills for the Blue Devils and made her presence felt late in what proved to be the final game with a couple of key kills to outlast Spencer.

?It was amazing that both teams were pounding the balls,? Bucheger said. ?I?m so proud of the way the girls played ? they played with confidence and conviction.?

DePouw recorded 22 kills, 9 digs, 3 blocks and 11 service points. James had 15 kills, 20 digs and 6 service points, while Hannah Miller contributed 37 assists. Danielle Schilawski had 17 digs, and Carlee Behnke notched four key blocks. Kelly Stewart and Selena Clark had 8 service points each.

DePouw ?continues to improve every single game,? Bucheger said. ?She played all of a Division 1 athlete.?

Bucheger added that James ?did a nice job in controlling her net,? but the entire squad worked hard in the victory.

Spencer, which had been seeded fourth in its side of the bracket, has needed five-set wins to advance in its last three tournament matches. Heller praised Oconto?s performance.

?They were a scrappy team and had some hard hitters, and that?s tough to contain,? Heller said. ?We?ve played scrappy teams, but not teams that had both.?

On Friday, Oconto (36-1) plays Cuba City (30-9), which beat Deerfield in four sets on Saturday to win the spot at state. The winner will play either Grantsburg (25-3) or Oostburg (41-4), last year?s champion, for the state title on Saturday.

This week, Bucheger said she wants the team to appreciate the achievement, but not get overly caught up with excitement.?

?The goal is normalcy,? she said. ?There?s gong to be some high emotions, but we just need to do the things we need to do. I want that adrenaline and I want them to enjoy the moment, but there?s no sense of urgency.?

Oconto advanced into the sectional final by crushing Weyauwega-Fremont 25-17, 25-19, 25-14 on Thursday at Gillett.

The Blue Devils cruised in the first set, then fell behind by three points in the second set before reestablishing their rhythm and asserting themselves on the court.

?They believe in each other and never give up,? Bucheger said.

DePouw had 12 kills, 4 blocks and 14 service points. James added 8 kills 20 digs and 8 service points, while Miller recorded 19 assists. Schilawski had 13 digs and11 service points.

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Oconto High School volleyball team heads to state

The Oconto High School Volleyball team earned a trip to the State Volleyball Tournament Saturday night.

The girls defeated Spencer ? last year?s state runner-up ? in three matches to claim the sectional crown.

Coach Nancee Bucheger said she was very proud of the team, which has lost just one match this season.

?It takes a lot of work, skill, team chemistry and the belief to get it done,? Bucheger said.

The Blue Devils will play at 1 p.m. Friday at the Resch Center in Green Bay against Cuba City.

If they win, the team plays for the Division 3 state final at 12:30 p.m. Saturday against the winner of Grantsburg and Oostburg, who won the title last season.

Oconto swept Spencer in three matches, cheered on by a big crowd of Blue Devil supporters, many who came on two fan buses.

?There was a lot of blue and gold pride in the stands,? Bucheger said.

Athletic director Rick Sherman called the victory a total team effort.

?Our first team all conference players played just like their billing, and everybody did just a fantastic job,? Sherman said.

Oconto last made an appearance in the state volleyball tournament in 1999, losing to Cadott in the semi-final. That?s when girls only played best two-out-of-three.

But the team has been inching its way toward a return trip the past few seasons. Two years ago, they just missed going to state with a loss in the sectional final to Auburndale. Last season, Kewaunee avenged its loss the previous year in the sectional-semifinal match.

The chance to the play at state is a rare opportunity, Bucheger said, the team?s long-time coach.

?You work so very hard to get there, and to be able say personally it?s the second time, and the second time for the community, that?s really good,? Bucheger said.

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Green Bay Press Gazette Oconto State Tournament Preview, written by Andrew Pekarek:

WIAA state girls volleyball: Oconto brings formidable resume

OCONTO ? Nancee Bucheger remembers matches were decided by best-of-three sets when she coached the Oconto volleyball team to its first state tournament in 1999.

While the rules have since changed to best-of-five sets, this year?s Blue Devils squad has reverted back to three-set matches on its way to earning the program?s second state berth.

Besides using five playoff sweeps to set up its WIAA Division 3 state semifinal match against Cuba City at the Resch Center on Friday, Oconto (36-1) has rolled throughout the season.

Not only is it the only team among all divisions in the state tournament field to have only a single blemish on its record, but the Blue Devils have lost just four sets this season.

?Who would have ever thought that we would only drop four sets?? said Bucheger, who is in her 19th season as coach. ?I?ve never seen that before really in all my years of coaching.?

The Blue Devils went undefeated in the Packerland Conference for the first time behind the leadership of senior Sara DePouw, who was the conference?s player of the year and the first Oconto player to reach 1,000 career kills.

Coming into the state tournament as the second-ranked team in D3, there are also realistic hopes that this squad could be the first from Oconto ? in any sport ? to win a team state championship.

But Bucheger?s more concerned with how her squad will react should it have to pull out a match that goes to five sets for the first time this season.

?I would not have gauged us not playing to five yet,? said Bucheger, whose squad swept Spencer, last year?s D3 state runner-up, in the sectional finals. ?But I think this group will be ready for it.

?This year?s team is very disciplined, very humble and focused. They?re really good at having each other?s backs and that?s been a difference for us.?

After losing in the sectional finals in 2010 and the sectional semifinals in 2011, the Blue Devils gained a lot of confidence when it defeated Oconto Falls and won the Shawano Invite on Sept. 8.

Bucheger estimated it was the first time in at least 10 years that Oconto beat the Panthers, who were a D2 state qualifier last year and won the Bay Conference this season.

?We?ve have a good relationship with the coaches over there and a ton of respect for their program,? Bucheger said. ?We have kids who play club over there, so we like to support them and I?m sure they support us.?

Opponents need more than just back-row support to try and offset a player like DePouw, who is verbally committed to play at Bryant University in Rhode Island. She has 567 kills this season and is one of four players at the state tournament with more than 500.

Flanking DePouw is junior outside hitter Laken James with 338 kills. The team also has been bolstered by senior Hannah Miller (930 assists) making the switch to setter and senior Danielle Schilawski (375 digs) stepping in as libero following a strong offseason in club volleyball.

What Oconto hasn?t done is play at the Resch Center and the bigger backdrop it provides.

?How do you plan to play in something that big?? Bucheger said. ?I don?t know because in ?99 it was in Neenah and there were bleachers all the way around us. But the court dimensions are all the same, the only thing is no (low) ceiling for the ball to hit.

?I?m just trying to keep things as normal as possible around here.?

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Volleyball: DePouw named Player of the Year
Three others on Oconto squad earn all conference recognition

One year sharing Player of the Year honors for the Packerland Conference, Sara DePouw of Oconto has earned the award solo.

The 6-0 senior was the unanimous selection for the award, as well as for the first team.

Coach Nancee Bucheger said DePouw was tenacious and highly skilled on the court.

?Where ever the ball is, she can place the ball where she wants, and that something not a lot of volleyball players can do,? Bucheger said.

DePouw recorded 544 kills in 86 sets as of Oct. 24.

DePouw?s dominating presence on the court has helped lead the Blue Devils to a nearly flawless record. They?ve lost just lost one match this season (as of Oct. 24), which came to Luxemburg-Casco at the Wausau Invite on Sept. 4.

?She?s just a really good athlete and a really good teammate,? Bucheger said.

Two other members of the Oconto volleyball squad ? Hannah Miller and Laken James ? also earned first team honors.

Miller, a 5-9 senior has racked up 786 assists, or 9.8 per set as of Oct. 24 Bucheger said she?s been outstanding at setter.

?She?s a smart girl and knows where to place the ball,? Bucheger said. ?She?s always able to make something out of the ball so we can attack.?

James, a 5-9 junior, has 282 kills, 24 aces and 322 digs as of Oct. 24. James is a solid all around player, Bucheger said.

?She?s just very quick and agile,? she said.

Danielle Schilawski, a 5-5 senior, earned a spot on the second team as libero, or defensive specialist.

Schilawski has 299 digs so far, but has been big contributor on offense as well, serving at 90 percent with 31 aces.

?Her serve has been tremendous,? Bucheger said.

DePouw, Miller and Schilawski are also team captains.

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Oconto/Cuba City Write Up by Andrew Pekarek:

Oconto girls advance to state volleyball final with win over Cuba City

ASHWAUBENON - Boom, boom, pow.

The chant roared through the Resch Center on Friday 39 times.

That?s how many kills Sara DePouw totaled to power Oconto to a 28-26, 22-25, 25-16, 25-20 victory over Cuba City in a WIAA Division 3 state semifinal match.

DePouw?s effort was a four-set, state tournament record for all divisions and helped the Blue Devils reach their first state championship game ? in any sport.

Oconto (37-1) advances to play Oostburg, the defending D3 champion, at 12:30 p.m. today.

?I love when the crowd does that it gets us so into the game,? DePouw said.

A game is exactly what the Blue Devils had on their hands, as they lost a set for only the fifth time this season and first since Sept. 22.

?I felt like the first two games we didn?t play up to our fullest,? said DePouw, who also had 15 digs and five service aces.

?That third game we were like, ?Let?s go. We can do this. We can play better. Let?s show them what we really got.??

What the Cubans (30-10) got were 15 kills from DePouw in the third set, where Oconto maintained at least a four-point lead throughout after a 6-0 run at the start.

?At first she had a lot of jitters and some balls were going out of bounds, but once she got into a rhythm she played really well,? Oconto coach Nancee Bucheger said.

DePouw beat the previous four-set kills? record set by Christie Gardner of West Bend East from a D1 match in 2001. The five-set record is 50 kills.

Making its first state appearance since 1999, Bucheger said nerves were probably a result of her team?s inability at times to close out Cuba City in the first set, where the biggest lead either team built was three points.

The fourth set, featuring six ties and three lead changes, was also in question until a Laken James kill gave Oconto its biggest lead at four points late in the game.

James, a junior, finished with 20 kills and 24 digs, while senior Hannah Miller dished out 59 assists.

Overall, the Blue Devils had six players with double-digit digs, including Kelly Stewart, who was one of two freshmen that saw significant minutes in the match.

The other is Carlee Behnke, who posted two of her five kills late in the fourth set.

?We couldn?t have asked for more from those freshmen because they really stepped up,? Bucheger said.

Cuba City, who was making its 10th state appearance and first since finishing as runner-up in 2009, got 12 kills from Mikayla Kaiser and Danielle Weber.

To win the school?s first team state title, Oconto will have to defeat Oostburg, another squad with a lengthy history at state.

Oostburg is not only making its third state appearance in seven years, but many of its players have also contributed to the girls basketball team?s run of six straight state appearances.

Oconto, which fell in the volleyball semifinals in 1999, is guaranteed at least its first state runner-up trophy since the boys track team did so in 1990 and 1980.

But the Blue Devils have their sights set on winning the gold trophy for the first time with their boisterous crowd as the backdrop.

?It?s going to be unbelievable,? DePouw said. ?To do this for our school and see if we can bring home a gold ball is just unbelievable. I?m just so excited and grateful to be playing.?


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Oconto/Oostburg Match Recap, written by Andrew Pekarek:

WIAA state volleyball: Defending champ Oostburg too much for Oconto

ASHWAUBENON ? The Oconto volleyball team went down swinging on Saturday.

Trying to force a fifth set against the defending state champion, the Blue Devils had Oostburg on its heels before falling 20-25, 25-18, 25-18, 25-23 in the WIAA Division 3 state championship at the Resch Center.

?I?m very proud of our girls,? Oconto coach Nancee Bucheger said. ?We just came up on the short end.?

The decisive set featured five lead changes and 10 ties, and it seemed like the Blue Devils (37-2) were poised to make it 11 when Hannah Miller rolled a hit off the net to keep it in play and Sara DePouw tallied a kill following the Oostburg return.

But Oconto was unable to extend the match any longer as Abby VanStelle ended it with a kill across the court on the next serve.

?It wasn?t meant to be,? Bucheger said. ?We had a couple of dropped balls, which is unlike us. They depend on each other so much but somewhere along they forgot to say mine.?

The Blue Devils certainly looked like they were going to claim the school?s first state title when it came out and took an eight-point lead at one point in winning the first set.

However, it would lead just once in the second and trailed throughout the third against the Lady Dutch, who were led by Jo-Leigh VerVelde?s 24 kills, 23 assists and 13 digs.

?We came out really aggressive,? said Bucheger. ?We had a very nice offensive start in that first set, and I was so proud of their intensity.

?I think Oostburg got into their rhythm and did a really nice job attacking the ball across the court, and we knew it was coming, we just had a few slip ups there.?

Oostburg (43-4) knew what was coming from the Blue Devils as well, as it figured to see a heavy dosage of DePouw, who totaled 28 kills and 14 digs.

?We kind of just wanted to try and slow her down and wrestle them for points and see how it would came out,? Oostburg coach Scott Greupink said. ?That?s about how it felt. She got off on us early, but we were able to get settled and go from there.?

The loss ends the Blue Devils? 32-match winning streak, which saw them win the Packerland Conference title and sweep their way to their first state appearance since 1999.

Oconto was the first team from the Press-Gazette?s coverage area to play in a state championship volleyball match since 1993 when Niagara finished as the D4 runner-up.

The Blue Devils? D3 runner-up trophy is the first the school has had since the boys track team won one in 1990.

?It?s really amazing,? DePouw said. ?We?re really proud of what we accomplished and especially to bring it back to our school and community. We had such good fan support, so to bring it back for our school is just awesome.?

In addition to DePouw, the team will have to replace seniors Selena Clark, Danielle Schilawski and Miller, who had 41 assists and 11 digs.

But the future looks bright with junior Laken James (17 kills, 13 digs) returning with experience along with freshmen Carlee Behnke and Kelly Stewart.

?Sara?s been big,? Bucheger said. ?She has a lot of heart, a lot of commitment. If we get some of our girls to continue to do that and get some of these freshmen and sophomores, who didn?t get as many attempts this year, to step in because they?ll get more next year.?

http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/article/20121104/GPG020506/311040269/WIAA-state-volleyball-Defending-champ-Oostburg-too-much-Oconto?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|GPG-High School Sports
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Congrats to Sara DePouw for being named Second Team All-State and to her and Laken James for being named to the Division 3 All-Tournament Team!

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Celebrating silver
Oconto volleyball claims second at state tourney
Written by Oconto County Editor Kent Tempus

A few weeks into the season, Nancee Bucheger gave the 12 members of her Oconto High School Volleyball team a necklace of bright blue Mardi Gras beads. In a glass jar at her home were matching sets of gold beads.

?I challenged them to get the gold beads,? Bucheger said

To thunderous applause, Bucheger placed them around their necks on Sunday during a ceremony to mark the team?s second place finish in the state tournament the day before.

Hundreds of people turned out for the tribute, which followed a trip by the team through Oconto on the back of a semi, escorted by a police car and a firetruck.

The team was greeted with applause when they entered the OHS gym, with seniors Sara DePouw and Danielle Schilawski carrying the silver ball trophy presented after the Blue Devils? loss to top-ranked Oostburg in the finals.

?These girls and coach Nancee have taken us on a journey to a place we?ve never been before,? Mayor Victoria Bostedt told the crowd.

?This is what it means to be a community,? she added. ?This is who we are, we take part in every joy, every sorrow a community has.?

While there was some disappointment after Saturday?s match, it had fully been replaced by pride and support in the team?s accomplishments.

Packerland Conference champions. Regional champions. Sectional winners. Reaching the final match for the state title.

After narrowly losing the sectional final in 2010, DePouw said the returning team members believed they could make it to state.

?We all knew it was within our reach,? DePouw said.

But they fell short of reaching state, falling in the sectional semifinal to tough rival.

?It was when we lost against Kewaunee is when we knew, ?that?s it, we?re sick of this,?? said senior Selena Clark. ?We?re not going to lose anymore.?

After that, the Blue Devils hardly did. Until the state tournament, Oconto had recorded just one loss. In fact, they had only lost four sets all season, then one more in defeating Cuba City in the state semifinal match.

The reason was teamwork.

?We had a lot of heart,? Schilawski said. ?There was no arguing, no heartache, at all, ever. We all just bonded.?

Senior Hannah Miller said that sense of team was built up not just in practice, but also during team dinners and even sleepovers after tournaments.

?We put a lot of faith in each, were confident in each player,? Miller said after Saturday?s match. ?If they do bad, we pick them up. Whether it?s bad mistake or a good (play), we come together to keep the momentum going.?

Like some of her teammates, Junior Laken James had tears in eyes after the final match.

?It was great to be here,? she said. ?Getting an opportunity for the gold ball that?s what it was all about.?

Bucheger, welcomed with enthusiastic applause, thanked athletic director Rick Sherman and OHS principal Bill Slough for their assistance and support, and praised her team.

?It?s just been wonderful,? Bucheger said of this season.

The turning point in the season, she said, was in early September at the Shawano Invite, where they beat teams from bigger schools, including Oconto Falls.

?That was where these girls started to believe,? Bucheger said.

The girls, Bucheger said later, had no shortage of initiative and desire to win. For the coach, the road to the state title seemed possible at the end of the regular season.

?I knew what their ability was,? Bucheger said. ?After the conference championship, I thought our journey to state could truly happen.?

During the regionals, the Blue Devils cruised in defeating Menominee Indian, Bonduel, Shiocton and Weyauwega-Fremont. But then they ran into Spencer, last year?s Division 3 runner-up.

But Oconto powered through, winning 25-22, 25-21 and 27-25 in the sectional final at Marathon.

Then came Cuba City in the state semifinal at the Resch Center in Green Bay on Friday. Oconto won the hard-fought first set 28-26, then dropped the second set 22-25. But they roared back and closed the match out with 25-16 and 25-20 victories.

Sue Van Hulle, mother of junior Guinna Dickinson, said the match was ?a little bit of a nail biter.?

?When they?re on their game, they?re amazing,? Van Hulle said outside the Resch. ?There was never a doubt in ny mind ? OK, I was a little nervous.?

All Bucheger wanted for her team at that point was to get a good night?s rest and play their best on Saturday.

?It?s up to them,? she said Friday afternoon. ?I?ve done everything I can to get them ready.?

On Saturday, hundreds of students and fans jammed onto one side of the Resch Center, a blue sea of screaming support.

?We had four sections in the Resch Center,? Mayor Bostedt said. ?Can you imagine, that?s like the city of Oconto!?

?I didn?t think we?d get into this building,? Miller said. ?I was there, but it didn?t feel realistic ? till we stepped inside (and started) focusing a game.?

After taking the first set over Oostburg, 25-20, the Dutchmen showed why they were defending state champion, notching 25-18 wins the next two sets.

?I think we shocked them,? Bucheger said.

In the fourth set, Oconto held a 14-11 lead, but Oostburg tied it a 15.

?You just have do your responsibility and have faith in the person before you and after you to get the job done,? Miller said. ?And go for everything you can, because you don?t have another chance.?

With several points decided by long volleys ? punctuated by amazing digs and saves on both sides of the net, the set was tied at 20, then 21, then 22.

Oostburg scored two more points, but Oconto didn?t give up, putting one more point up.

?We knew in that in the fourth game, this could be it,? DePouw said. ?We just wanted to play our hardest and fight as hard as we possibly could.?

But just like that, an Oostburg shot dropped to the court. The Blue Devils came together briefly, then moved to the net to congratulate Oostburg.

?We knew how much every point mean, we kept rallying,? James said. ?We played our best and left it all on the floor.?

Bucheger said the Dutchmen got into a rhythm that forced Oconto to make adjustments they haven?t needed all season.

?In the fourth game, we really picked up the speed,? she said. ?We had them on the tightrope, but couldn?t quite pull it off.?

In addition to the silver ball, two members of the team set records. Miller recorded 59 assists in the Cuba City match, a WIAA Division 3 tournament record.

DePouw notched 39 kills in that match, which is a record for all divisions, Bucheger said.

?It?s an absolutely tremendous season,? Sherman said after the final. ?Anytime your season concludes on the Resch Center state floor, it?s just an indication of the phenomenal season we had as a volleyball program.?

Sherman said the Oconto fans offered wonderful support to the team.

?I was just so proud of the way we conducted ourselves within the lines of the court and they way we conducted outside as well in terms of our community representation,? he said.

Sherman said Sunday that several WIAA staff said they too were impressed with Oconto?s conduct, and that the school is being considered for the sportsmanship award.

?That?s a tribute to the way we conducted ourselves as a community,? he said.

Sherman also thanked Roger Trepanier, who videotaped the team?s matches all season, Linda Trepanier, who kept the team?s scorebook, John Schultz, who operated the clock during games, and Mary Schultz, who also kept score at games. Also thanked were Bucheger?s husband Andrew and John Hubacher, for scouting future tournament opponents.

Also thanked were past and present middle school coaches Brian Sohrweide, John Hubacher and Karen Watzka, who helped develop current team members. He also asked for round of applause for coach Bucheger?s predecessors, Jeff Werner and Dorothy Calvert, for providing a solid base for OHS?s volleyball success.

Bucheger praised her starters as well as freshmen Carlee Behnke and Kelly Stewart, freshmen who played key roles throughout the season. She also singled out sophomores who played JV but practiced and dressed with the varsity this season, and noted they will be asked to step up for next season.

Bucheger noted the team showed plenty of character in 2012. After the Blue Devils won the conference championship, the coach was ready to present them the gold beads in honor of the achievement.

?This team is so disciplined and so focused, they didn?t want them,? Bucheger told the crowd Sunday. ?Tonight, I?m going to give them the gold beads.?

The girls, along with the team managers, all received one. The smiles on their faces showed the gold beads meant as much as their second place medal in state championship.

?I?m happy for them ? they did a wonderful job,? said Sara DePouw?s mother, Julie DePouw. ?They gave everything they could; it?s all you can ask for. It?s been so much fun. You sure can be proud. It?s a great group of girls, they built each other up, and they worked together. I am so happy for Oconto."

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Press Gazette's All-area girls volleyball: Oconto's DePouw puts up big numbers at small school
By: Andrew Pekarek

In the running to be class valedictorian, Sara DePouw is a bit of a math whiz and wants to become an accountant some day.

That?s good, because the Oconto High School senior put up some staggering numbers on the volleyball court.

The all-around player posted 658 kills, 421 digs, 104 blocks and 61 aces this season in addition to finishing her career as the school?s all-time leader with 1,556 kills.

But the accomplishments she is most proud of don?t take as long to add up.

DePouw helped lead the Blue Devils to an unblemished record in winning the Packerland Conference title and lost only seven sets all season in finishing as the WIAA Division 3 state runners-up.

?For us to be able to do that for our community and school is the biggest thing to me,? said the two-time Packerland Conference player of the year.

?After state there were some middle school kids that were like, ?I want to try and be like Sara.? So to be a role model for them, I take a lot of pride in that.?

In the process of leading Oconto to a 37-2 record and its first state appearance since 1999, DePouw set a state tournament record for all divisions with 39 kills in a four-set match during a semifinal victory against Cuba City.

For her efforts, DePouw is the Green Bay Press-Gazette girls volleyball player of the year.

?She?s always been eager to learn and still to this day she?s always hungry to learn whatever she can,? Oconto coach Nancee Bucheger said.

?With her knowledge of the game she?s able to help kids around her and brings them up to an even higher level.?

In addition to seeing her brother, Ryan, lead the state in scoring for boys basketball during the 2010-11 season, DePouw said getting brought up to the varsity volleyball team during the latter portion of her freshman year inspired her.

?The fact that (Bucheger) had confidence to bring me up gave me a lot of motivation to work harder and push myself more,? said DePouw, a second team all-state player this season.

Proud of her small-town roots, DePouw will take her game and her studies to the country?s smallest state of Rhode Island, where she?ll attend Bryant University, which is a Division I school and has the nation?s seventh-best accounting program.

?I?m proud of what I accomplished because I put a lot of hard work into what I?ve done,? DePouw said.

?A lot of people think because you go to a smaller school you can?t accomplish as much. But even at a small school, if you put in the hard work and the time in, you can achieve great things.?

2012 Press-Gazette all-area prep volleyball team

First team
Sara DePouw, sr., Oconto: The Packerland Conference player of the year totaled 658 kills, including 39 to break a state tournament record for a four-set match in the Blue Devils? first WIAA state appearance since 1999.

Corynn Ginnow, sr., De Pere: A first team all-FRCC choice, the senior setter distributed her 653 assists evenly, as five Redbirds posted at least 100 kills in winning a share of the FRCC title and returning to state for a second straight season.

Annie Goerdt, sr., Green Bay Preble: A FRCC co-player of the year, Goerdt became the Hornets? all-time leader in kills and reached 1,000 career digs in leading Preble to a D1 regional title.

Anika Johnson, sr., Green Bay Notre Dame: A FRCC co-player of the year and third-team all-state selection, Johnson recorded 109 blocks to help the Tritons claim their third straight D2 regional title.

Marissa Kline, sr., Luxemburg-Casco: An unanimous first-team all-Bay selection, the senior setter dished out 1,054 assists to lead the Spartans to the D2 sectional finals and finished her career with a school-record 3,393 assists.

Emily Klitzke, sr., Shawano: An unanimous all-Bay choice and second-team all-state selection, the Auburn University recruit totaled 336 kills, 339 digs, 95 blocks and 60 aces.

McKenna Larsen, jr., Oconto Falls: A second-team all-state choice, the Bay Conference player of the year recorded 658 kills, 532 digs, 459 assists and 122 aces to lead the Panthers to the Bay title.

Kelsey Stangel, sr., Kewaunee: One of three unanimous all-Packerland players for the Storm, Stangel set a school record with 472 kills in leading Kewaunee to its third straight D3 regional title.

Coaches of the year
Oconto?s Nancee Bucheger and De Pere?s Thoran Cribb: The Blue Devils went undefeated in the Packerland Conference for the first time and were the D3 state runners-up, losing only seven sets all season under Bucheger. The Redbirds won a share of their second straight FRCC title and returned to the D1 state tournament, where they fell to eventual champion Burlington in the quarterfinals in Cribb?s second year.

Second team
Alexis Bergman, sr., De Pere
Brielle Bodoh, sr., Wabeno
Alex Flucke, sr., Ashwaubenon
Laken James, jr., Oconto
Jill Kleiman, sr., Kewaunee
Carly Lemke, jr., Oconto Falls
Maggie Liebeck, so., Luxemburg-Casco
Brianna Linzmeier, sr., Wrightstown
Alex Richard, sr., Kewaunee
McKenzie Sadowski, jr., Coleman

Honorable mention
Abby Benz, so., N.E.W. Lutheran; Kennedy Blahnik, jr., Algoma; Lucy Bley, sr., Sevastopol; Jessi Bohlman, jr., Green Bay Southwest; Jenni Dowden, so., Bonduel; Claire Emmerich, sr., De Pere; Alix Everson, sr., Green Bay Notre Dame; Shannen Ganter, sr., Peshtigo; Katie Hackl, sr., Bay Port; Kelsey Hischke, sr., Gillett; Lauren Joerns, sr., Florence; Hannah Miller, sr., Oconto; Stephanie Prasser, sr., Wabeno; Natalie Rose, sr., Sturgeon Bay; Hannah Shimek, sr., West De Pere; Quinn Van De Hei, sr., Seymour; Abby Verheyen, so., Wrightstown; Maryellen Wagener, sr., Niagara; Sara Wickman, sr., Wausaukee; Kailene Young, sr., Shawano.

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