Occasionally, when things go fast, they can get a little sloppy and out of control.
But that's the only way the five-time defending North Shore Conference champion Germantown boys volleyball team would have it, as the Warhawks all but clinched another league crown with a 25-13, 25-22, 20-25, 25-22 win over archrival Nicolet Oct. 10 in Germantown.
"We tend to run our offense a little faster," said coach Brian Rushmer. "We're not as big as we used to be, so that's why we go a little quicker. I think only (top-ranked in state) Marquette runs it as fast as we do.
"We told the guys we win tonight, we get a piece of the conference title. No matter what else we do, the end goal is to get at least a share of the title."
The victory improved the fourth-ranked in state Warhawks to 6-0 in league matches with two to go, while Nicolet fell to 5-2 with only one to go.
Nicolet tried to match the Warhawks' speed and intensity in the first set, but wound up with a number of service errors and other mistakes in the process, which put the Knights in a hole that was hard to dig out of.
"We knew we were going to miss some (serves)," said Knights coach Brad Kuehl. "The only real chance we had at winning was serving as hard as we could and trying to get them out of system. In the end, we just didn't take advantage of our opportunities."
Like in the second set, when the Knights went ahead 13-9, only to see the Warhawks go on an 11-1 run and take a 20-14 lead.
Nicolet got the margin down to one point twice, but a tip kill by sophomore outside hitter Bryce Behrendt and a Nicolet mistake allowed the Warhawks to escape with set two.
Rushmer took responsibility for the loss of set three, where he tried different alignments and different line-ups. As a result, the Warhawks were a little disorganized and were hit with several penalty points, which stopped a rally from an early 10-1 deficit.
Senior outside hitter Bryce Thomas, who had 12 kills, wasn't worried.
"We knew that we probably wouldn't sweep them, because they (the Knights) always have something up their sleeve," he said, "but we're just feeling very confident right now. We feel we can beat any team when we want to when we're on. We're going to have some lulls, but tonight we also showed some flashes of what we can be when we put it all-together."
The fourth set went back-and-forth with several lead changes and ties before the Warhawks went on a 7-1 run to pull ahead, 21-15. Nicolet got it to within two, but that was as close as the Knights would get, A long, dramatic point with several good saves on each side, ended in a Nicolet error and won the match for Germantown.
"That point did sort of sum up our night," said Kuehl. "It was a great point, but I wished the kids had played that kind of defense from the beginning. I was also happy the kids showed heart after falling behind 24-20, but that kind of intensity has to be there from point one."
Kuehl liked the play of senior libero Ari Robinson who had 13 digs and three aces, while junior outside hitter Sean Shtivelberg had 18 kills and sophomore setter Matt Heidenrich had 36 assists. Junior opposite hitter Andrew Heidenrich rolled his ankle in the Oct. 8 Whitefish Bay tourney and missed this match but Kuehl felt the team still should have been OK without him.
Meanwhile, Germantown was led by Behrendt, who had 15 kills, while senior setter Chris Elberson had 31 assists. Senior outside hitter Chris Stapelman had 10 digs and Behrendt nine while senior middle blocker Colin Lindwall had five blocks. The Germantown block was very effective against the Nicolet attack all evening. The Warhawks got inspiration from the star of the 2013 WIAA state runner-up team Jon Averkamp, who was home from college and took in the match from the team bench.
"This match is always going to be competitive," said Rushmer, "because they have very good players in (outside hitter) Matt (Aussem) and Sean (Shtivelberg). They always scrap. We knew it would not be an easy three (set sweep). ....So the goal tonight was to take care of business. Do our best to get to 8-0 (in conference) and build momentum for the post-season (WIAA tourney)."
Thomas feels that the momentum is coming..
"When we come together and play like we can play, we're unstoppable," he said, "but we still have to keep our mind on things. ...We held a team meeting the other day and we talked about defense, blocking and communication and obviously it helped. We know we're a good team offensively but if we want to go far, we have to clean up the little things."