Verona won a regional title for the third year in a row, but the sectional round again proved to be a stumbling block for the Wildcats.

Sun Prairie knocked off Verona 25-23, 25-21, 19-25, 25-7 in the Division 1 Sun Prairie Sectional semifinals Thursday, Oct. 31, on the Wildcats’ home court. Verona defeated Onalaska 25-18, 24-26, 25-11, 25-20 on Saturday, Oct. 26, in the regional final

Sun Prairie def. Verona 25-23, 25-21, 19-25, 25-7

The Wildcats struggled to stay in their offensive system and couldn’t contain Sun Prairie’s high-powered offense.

Verona (34-6) controlled the third set with its season on the line.

“I asked them how bad they wanted it,” Wildcats coach Jillian Bauer said. “You’re on your home court, and at that point it was about playing with pride. The seniors have been in that position before, and kudos to them to get us back in it in the third set.”

Verona scored six straight points to take a 7-3 lead it would not relinquish. Amelia Hust served three aces, Megan Touchett slammed a kill, and Maddy Kelley recorded a stuff block during the stretch. Five Wildcat service errors kept the Cardinals in the third, but a hitting error and an ace by Delaney McIntosh forced a fourth set.

Verona had three more service errors in the fourth, and Bauer used both timeouts in the set’s first 12 points with her team trailing 10-2. Sun Prairie’s Kristen Anderson served four aces in a row after a Verona hitting error to push the Cardinals’ lead to 15-2.

Four service errors in the first set cost the Wildcats. Rachel Karnosky served an ace to tie it at 22, but the Cardinals closed the set on a 3-1 run.

The second set featured nine ties, but Sun Prairie scored the final four points to push Verona to the brink of elimination.

Jordan Armstrong dished out 23 assists for the Wildcats. Touchett finished with eight kills, Kelley had four blocks, and Hust served six aces. McIntosh added 10 digs.

Verona def. Onalaska 25-18, 24-26, 25-11, 25-20

The Wildcats clawed past the Hilltoppers to win a regional title on their home court.

Verona jumped out to a 9-5 lead in the first set. Onalaska rallied and got within 17-16, but the Wildcats answered by scoring eight of the final 10 points to take the set.

Verona let an 18-14 lead in the second set slip away, but the Wildcats rolled in the third.

Caludia Bobb had eight straight service points to give the Wildcats a 10-2 lead. Kelley took over at the net with three kills during a six-point run that extended the lead to 19-8.

“I think the key was our serve and pass game,” Kelley said. “We served really tough, especially in the third set, and that got them out of system. We also pushed the tempo on our side and ran the offense pretty fast, which got them out of system and allowed us to get a good lead on them.”

The final set was another see-saw battle. Bobb delivered an ace and a kill to give the Wildcats a 10-6 lead. The Hilltoppers rallied to take an 18-17 lead, but Bobb answered with a tip to tie the set at 18. Verona closed the match with a 7-2 run.