It's well known that veteran Menomonee Falls girls volleyball coach JC Bruns is an avid Chicago Bears and Cubs fan in this the land of the Brewers and the Packers.
And he is in seventh heaven, of course, over how well his previous hard-luck Cubbies are doing this season.
He tried to use that to the Indians' benefit in the power-packed Greater Metro Conference Tournament on Oct. 15 at Brookfield Central. Stunned at the start of the semifinal match against archrival and defending state champion DSHA, Bruns grabbed his Cubs hat, turned it inside out and wore it as a rally cap for his Indians. It worked for the third and fourth sets as Falls pulled back from two sets down to even up the match.
But the hat's magic wore off in the fifth set race, as the Dashers won, 15-6.
DSHA, which had battled injuries midseason, continued its form and beat Brookfield Central to win the conference tournament title, while Falls turned around and downed dual-meet regular season champ Brookfield East for third.
It was a very interesting day for Bruns and the Indians, who celebrated homecoming last weekend. It was also a great example of the parity and excellence of GMC volleyball this fall.
"Absolutely, any of those four teams could have won it," Bruns said, referring to his squad, DSHA, East and Central. "It wasn't a surprise that it played out the way it did, and if it had played out a different way, that, too, wouldn't have been a surprise either."
Falls, East and Central are all state-ranked, and Falls, East and West Allis Hale have all earned WIAA sectional seeds in the upcoming tournament series.
"It's just a testament to how deep the league is right now," Bruns said.
The third-ranked Indians will get a regional semifinal bye and will host the winner of eighth-seeded Homestead and ninth-seeded Waukesha West in a regional final at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22. The winner advances to sectional semifinals at Arrowhead on Thursday, Oct. 27, with sectional finals on Saturday, Oct. 29, at Germantown. Mukwonago is the sectional's second seed. They beat Falls in the finals of Mukwonago's own tournament in early September.
Bruns sees what the Indians have had to work through in the GMC race as an advantage heading into the WIAA tourney.
"We want to use the deeper conference tourney to propel us to a deep run (in the WIAA event)," he said. "We just hope we don't have to ride such a roller coaster like we did in the GMC."
Because almost nothing was easy in the GMC tourney. Falls beat Hale by a closer-than-it-looked 25-16, 29-27, 256-24 margin. Then that semifinal with DSHA went 25-17, 25-19, 12-25, 17-25, 15-6. Bruns was very pleased with the third-place win over sixth-ranked East (27-25, 25-20, 21-25, 25-17), considering his athletes were also thinking about the homecoming dance that night.
Bruns said serve receive was the Indians' downfall against eighth-ranked DSHA.
"We struggled with it all weekend," he said. "It's what put us in the hole against them (the Dashers). We just got into a rut."
But he was pleased with the overall effort and especially highlighted junior middle blocker Sarah Navin.
"She's really done a lot for us in this stretch run," he said. "She's been improving all season. She and the rest are really working hard right now."