In just four short years of existence, the New Berlin United boys volleyball team has a state championship.
For Nicolet, a string of close calls continues.
New Berlin defeated Nicolet in five games, 25-20, 23-25, 22-25, 25-21, 16-14, in the WIAA state final at Wisconsin Lutheran College on Saturday.
"It feels great," New Berlin coach Kurt Derenne said. "All that hard work in the gym paid off. These guys have done a lot, a lot of work in that gym. Everything coming together, finally experiencing successes with a conference championship and now a state championship, it's unreal."
State player of the year Jeremy Dejno served an ace for the game-winning point in the decisive fifth game, shortly after his kill gave New Berlin a 15-14 lead.
Earlier in the fifth game, New Berlin's Nick Olson had back-to-back block kills and then a kill to help his team erase a 10-9 deficit. Dejno followed with back-to-back kills as New Berlin took a 14-11 lead.
Nicolet's Rob Mayer drilled a shot, New Berlin was called for a foul and Mayer blocked Dejno to pull the Knights even at 14-14, before Dejno took over.
"I got blocked a few plays before that so I decided right then and there that I wasn't going to cost us the state title," Dejno said. "My jump serve was off most of the game. It didn't matter if I got the ace - I wanted our team to win. I just went after it and was not timid."
Nicolet, last year's runner-up and a state qualifier in 2007 as well, took a two-games-to-one lead thanks to six kills by junior Matt Klingspohn in the third game, but New Berlin responded.
In the fourth game, Dejno recorded back-to-back aces during a 9-3 run that put New Berlin ahead for good.
Dejno finished with a match-high 26 kills. New Berlin's Chris Pokrzywa led all players with 51 assists, as did Adam Vlaj with 19 digs.
"It was hard to mind set after winning that first game by so much," Vlaj said. "We just had to make sure to keep our eye on the prize."
Klingspohn finished with a team-high 21 kills followed by Mayer's 18. Anatoli Berezovsky had 45 assists and 10 digs. Patrick Bieser Jr. had 12 digs for Nicolet (31-11).
"This one is even more disappointing," Nicolet coach Brad Kuehl said. "It was 16-14 in five (games), as close as you could get. These kids fought so hard all weekend. No one even thought we'd win the first game. Give these kids credit."
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