Josh Johnson

Happy tears and cheers filled the gymnasium when the Clear Lake volleyball girls earned their first trip to State. 

Number one seed Clear Lake (36-0) faces off against number four seed Newman Catholic (22-17) Friday morning at 9 a.m. The championship match is scheduled from 9 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 9.

Top-seeded Clear Lake is making its first-ever appearance in the State Tournament. The Warriors gained access to the tournament field after beating Washburn 25-17, 25-12, 25-20 in the McDonell Catholic Sectional final Saturday. They finished atop the Central Division of the Lakeland Conference standings this fall.

Defending champion and second seed Catholic Central makes its second straight  appearance and its eighth overall.  The Hilltoppers’ previous seven appearances have produced six championships and one runner-up finish. In addition to last season’s championship, they won three straight titles from 2006-2008 and back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012. They added a runner-up finish in 2010. Prior to joining the WIAA, the Hilltoppers won a Class B championship in the now defunct WISAA in 1984. The Hilltoppers continue their quest to defend their title by sweeping Green Bay N.E.W. Lutheran/ Providence Academy 25-14, 25-16, 25-10 in the Central Wisconsin Christian Sectional final. Catholic Central placed third in the Metro Classic Conference this year. 

Hillsboro, the third seed, is back at State for the first time since 2012 and for the eighth time overall. The Tigers had a streak of five straight appearances from 2003-07. That streak produced a pair of runner-up finishes, in 2005 and in 2007. Last weekend, they eliminated Iowa-Grant from title contention with a 25-12, 25-23, 19-25, 25-11 win in the Richland Center Sectional final to earn their return to the Resch Center.  The Tigers were crowned champions of the Scenic Bluffs Conference this fall.

Fourth-seeded Newman Catholic is back in the tourney field for the ninth straight season and for the 12th time overall. The Fighting Cardinals won four straight titles from 2013-16, and they have a pair of runner-up finishes as well, those coming in 2009 and 2012. They extended their streak of State appearances by sweeping Wabeno/Laona in the Suring Sectional final by scores of 26-24, 25-18, 25-20. They finished third in the South Division of the Marawood Conference this fall.

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