So now that the all-important date of Sept. 10 is past for the top-ranked in state Menomonee Falls girls volleyball team, what is Indian coach J.C. Bruns going to point to as the next important stop in the road for his talented, senior-laden team?
"I don't know yet," he said with a chuckle. "For now we'll just go back to cliches. 'One day at a time.'"
One can't blame Bruns for not having an answer just yet, as this important day was marked by a stunningly easy and impressive 25-20, 25-18, 25-22 victory by his squad over its third-ranked in state archrival DSHA.
How much emphasis did Bruns put on this match?
Just ask the Indians' All-American outside hitter Simone Lee what it's been like since the first day of practice.
"He had it posted all over the gym, 'Practice like it's Sept. 10,'" laughed Lee. "We knew how important it was."
It's tangible importance for Falls is that it is the first major goal achieved in what will be a season of big goals intended for this team. The initial benchmark is the search for the Indians' 10th Greater Metro Conference title in 12 years.
"This was special," said Bruns. "I know we didn't see them at their best, but this was special. ...I wanted this bad."
Right from the get go the Indians set about granting his wish, as they surged to an 8-1 first game lead and never let DSHA within three in taking the early advantage in the match.
"You just can't spot teams as good as this and expect to deliever a win," said veteran Dashers' coach Darrell Frank. "You just can't do that."
The Dashers didn't in game two grinding out an early lead behind the powerful arm of senior outside hitter Katie Hohenwalter, but that's when Lee, who helped the American Youth team to a second place finish in the World Championships in Thailand this past summer, turned it on.
Falls had tied the game at 11-all when she came to serve and she all but single-handedly created a 5-0 run for the Indians to make it 16-11. She had two kills in the outburst and two aces off her difficult to handle, patented jump serve, including one that died like a great curveball just over the net.
After that point, the Dashers could not get within three points as the Indians pulled away to take the set.
"Yes, that's our backstop," said Bruns. "She (Lee) can just absolutely carry us when she wants to."
"You know, the intensity level of playing overseas and playing here is pretty much the same," she said. "We still all come together after points and we still all get excited in the same way when we make a big play."
And Lee would continue to make big plays, finishing with 18 kills and four aces, as Falls took a 9-4 lead in the third set and never let the Dashers tie or get the lead.
It was a special evening for the Indians. Bruns loved how the team promoted the match in school and how raucous and loud the large student section and overall fan base was at this match.
And the team got them out of there in a hurry in just about an hour and 15 minutes, including the reserves' only fourth game. It was a far cry from the five-set, two-hour thriller the Dashers pulled out in their jam-packed little bandbox of a gym last season.
Lee got help from Abby Becker who had 29 assists, while Brittany Robinson had 13 digs and Katherine Von Bank also had four aces.
"I was absolutely amazed at how relaxed they were," said Bruns whose smile he wore before the match betrayed a bundle of nerves. "I don't think they were ever worried. I sure was."
That comes with confidence. Lee and the Indians know that much is expected of this team so they too were happy to get this first major goal done.
"There is a sense of urgency," she said, "and we know if we want to win, we have to pass well. Abby (Becker) was just beautiful tonight with her passes. They were always right there. When the pass is there, the set is there and the finish is there, it can be hard to stop us."
Her coach concurred and added one more thing.
"What you saw tonight was great team defense on the block and in the back row," he said.
Lee knows that there can be no let-up from now on as the Indians may see the Dashers again this Saturday at the powerful Brookfield Central Invitational.
"We're coming together," she said. "We're hustling, making plays and never giving up on each other."
"They're a good team," added Frank. "Very well-balanced on each rotation. They were weaker on some than others but we were never able to capitalize. He (Bruns) has them on a roll. They're playing well."
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