Very seldom across a career as a setter does an individual set themselves into an elite group as Kara Sowinski at Three Lakes has done.

After achieving the coveted goal of hitting 1,000 career assists as a sophomore, just over two years later she was able to hit a very seldom-reached milestone as she passed the 2,000 assists mark last weekend at a tournament in D.C. Everest.

“We didn’t think she would hit it until Tuesday night, so once we realized at our lunch break that it was most likely going to happen in our final match of the day, we were scrambling,” head coach Jayme Wyss said. “Fortunately, we had an awesome group of boys there who made signs in a back hallway secretly, and Nathan Koch had printed on the ball that morning and left it in the office, so Mr. Votis got it from the office and connected it with the rest of the Sowinski clan to bring down and be there for when it happened.

“And she didn’t even know what was happening until she saw the ball.”

While Sowinski hitting her milestone was a highlight of the day, so too was coming in second place in the tourney which featured schools from Division 1 and Division 2 leagues.

The team began the morning with a win over host D.C. Everest in straight sets, then fell to Stevens Point in three sets before winning over Meno­monie in two sets.

After a lunch break the Jays were faced with winners of the opposing bracket, Merrill, who they also beat in straight sets to put them in the championship game against Eau Claire Memorial.

“They had a strong team, but we still put up a fight, losing 22-25 both sets,” Wyss said. “During the second set against Memorial is when Kara hit 2,000 career assists.

“The official called a time out for us so we could present her with a game ball. I have never had a setter hit 1,000 sets, so to hit 2,000 is just incredible.”

Along with Sowinski, Mari Szews was named to the All-Tournament Team following the day. She finished the weekend with 53 kills to lead the Jays. Right behind her was Sara Gruszynski with 39. Sowinski tallied 107 assists on the weekend across five matches.

Conference win

The two favorites in the Northern?Lakes Conference (NLC) didn’t have to wait long to see who was going to get a leg up in the race for the 2021 title as Three Lakes traveled to Wabeno last week and prevailed in a five-set thriller, winning 3-2 over their rival in the conference opener for both schools.

“Tight sets every time,” Wyss said. “One moment a team could be behind five points and then tie it up and/or pull ahead. There was never a comfortable moment in the gym.”

Three Lakes was able to get a set up on the home team as they took a tough 25-23 win in the first. Laona-Wabeno responded, winning by the same score in the second before they took a two-sets-to-one lead, winning the third 21-25.

“Early on in the night we were too slow to move, and got burned short on a lot of stuff,” Wyss said. “Later on we were moving way better and the girls never gave up, even when Laona-Wabeno was at game point in the fifth set.”

Three Lakes was able to take the fourth set 25-23, which forced a deciding fifth set in a win-by-two race to 15. With Laona-Wabeno on serve, up 13-14, the Bluejays rallied to score the next three straight and win the fifth set 17-15 to take the match.

“Mari was definitely our strongest in the front row, both with her attacks and her blocks,” Wyss said. “In the back, the girls figured out how to adjust and where most of the hits were going. We knew they utilized Ellie Krawze the most, both when she was in the front, and even with back row hitting.

“Sara was in the back row when Ellie was in the front and did a phenomenal job with shifting and picking up a ton of her hits. We knew it would be a big night, but I don’t think we were expecting it to be so close.

“There are a lot of big takeaways that we learned from the night that we will work on before meeting them again in October.”

Szews ended with 25 kills on the night to lead the way, followed by 12 from Gruszynski, nine from Addie Lehmann, seven from Kallie Volk and six from Sowinski. Sowinski also added 50 assists on the night.

Defensively Jenna Erikson had 24 digs, followed by 10 from Gruszynski, 17 from Lehmann, 16 from Sowinski and 12 from Kaya Szews.

The team improved their overall season record to 14-3 and are tied with Crandon (1-0) and Elcho (1-0) in the early-season NLC standings.

After facing Goodman-Pembine this past Tuesday, the team will host Columbus Catholic Thursday in a rematch of the 2019 Regional final.