Altoona, Eau Claire (WQOW) -- The 41st-annual WIAA State Girls Volleyball Tournament begins later this week.
This is the 12th consecutive year the tourney has been held at the Resch Center in Green Bay.
For the first time since 1976, Altoona is taking a trip to state. The Railroaders lost a five-set heartbreaker in last season's Division 2 Sectional Semifinal, but this year, the Rails won a four-set match in the regional final, and then took a pair five-set matches in the sectional to advance to state.
"All they needed was someone that believed that they could do it," says Altoona head coach Elissa Upward, "and they finally have that belief in themselves, so it's really exciting to see."
"We came in a little rough," says Railroaders senior defensive specialist Kristi Hicks about the start of the season, "but then we picked up our pace and then made it to our goal, and now our goal is to win it all."
"It was like the most surreal feel ever," says Altoona senior setter Trissa Legge about winning the sectional, "I mean, that's something you dream as an athlete, since you start sports, like when you're little and you find out about state, that's what you want, so it was the best feeling in the world knowing that we were going."
Altoona takes on Madison Edgewood in the Division 2 state semifinals, Friday, at 4:00 P.M.
Eau Claire Regis has also advanced to state. The Ramblers made three straight trips starting in 2002, but haven't been back since. Regis has been close in recent years, dropping three straight sectional finals before breaking through this season.
"I do think that the girls have had state on their minds for a really long time," says Regis head coach Kendra Pagel, "last year we were a game shy from state, we lost three talented players but this year we have pretty much our whole team back, nine seniors on the squad this year, the girls are very dedicated and I'm just so proud that they have gotten this far."
"I'm very excited and I know the rest of my team is very excited," says Ramblers senior defensive specialist Danielle Zwiefelhofer, "we just want to go over there and do our best and try and bring home the gold ball."
I think we have a very good chance of winning down there," says Regis senior outside hitter Amanda Giguere, "I think we'll do really well, I mean there's great competition down there, so I think we can definitely pull out a win."
The Ramblers meet Brodhead in a Division 3 semi, Friday, at 1:00 P.M.
Clayton is making its fifth trip to state. The Bears battle North Crawford in a Division 4 semifinal, Friday at 10:00 A.M.
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