Meghan Mazzola remembers watching her sister play in the sectional volleyball tournament.
She remembers the run through the regionals, the disappointment that came in the sectionals.
This year, Mazzola has a positive memory to take away from the sectional tournament, as her Aquinas Blugolds advanced to state Saturday for the first time as a member of the WIAA.
"We've always been so close. Just watching all the senior classes almost make it is really heartbreaking," Mazzola said. "We didn't want that to be us, we didn't want to have the same crying in the locker room because you're so close. I think that really gave us the extra push too."
Aquinas relied on its six seniors to win a Mississippi Valley Conference title and accumulate a 31-4 record, but also its bench players. Head coach Bri Ebenhoe said the competition has become so good in practice, the reserves often beat the starters.
"Every single person on our team 1-15 has a role and a job and they're all fantastic players and a shame we can only have six on the court at a time," she said. "Every single person has a role and they know it and they push and just make their teammates better."
The Blugolds will face Howards Grove at 1 p.m. Friday in the WIAA Division 3 state semifinals at the Resch Center in Green Bay. The program previously won a state championship in 1984 as a member of the Wisconsin Independent Schools Athletic Association before joining the WIAA in 2001.
Ebenhoe said she will incorporate a balanced offensive attack with a lot of misdirection against the Tigers (40-4).
"It's going to be a battle. No one reaches this stage without being tested and going through fire. We both came through five-set matches to get to state, so we're looking forward to a great match."
Senior Shannon Paramesh said the Blugolds need to come out with a lot of energy, and continue to serve and block well.
"We just need to play our game because I don't know if they're as ready for us as we are for them."