MHS spikers land D1 scholarships

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Dan Larson/For the Times-Tribune
Middleton's Jordan LaScala (shown here) and teammate Sierra Pertzborn have both received NCAA Division 1 scholarships./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Sierra Pertzborn chose May 5 to post her college decision on social media, as the 6-foot-3 middle blocker/right side on the Middleton High School volleyball team shared on Twitter that she chose the University of Toledo (Ohio).

She was wearing a T-shirt to match her choice, puffing it out a bit for effect.

Pertzborn's Middleton teammate Jordan LaScala had a similar idea for making her announcement that she picked UW-Milwaukee. But unlike Pertzborn, LaScala’s was an exercise in patience.

LaScala, a 6-foot outside hitter, had already informed the coaches at UWM of her decision, doing so in late June.

Informing the rest of the Twitterverse, though, would have to wait a bit.

"The reason it took a while to actually post it is because I had ordered a (shirt) online and I wanted to post a picture with that on,” she said of finally getting to make the Tweet on July 9. “I was just like, 'I want it to be here. I want to post this photo!’ My coaches were probably like, 'What is she waiting for?’ ”

The wait for both Pertzborn and LaScala, weeks away from beginning their senior years, isn't officially over, as theirs are technically verbal commitments. They’ll both sign on the dotted line during the NCAA's early signing period in mid-November.

Once they do, Pertzborn and LaScala will give Middleton multiple NCAA Division 1 volleyball players for the first time since 2009 when the Cardinals boasted three Division 1 standouts in Molly Toon (Michigan), Danielle Prochaska (Belmont) and Andrea Barman (Presbyterian College).

Pertzborn said Toledo, a Division I program that competes in the Mid-American Conference and was 20-13 overall in 2021, called out to her in a way that made her decision easy.

"I knew pretty much right when I stepped on campus and watched practice. That's how I started my visit and the energy was amazing in the gym and the girls were all super welcoming," she said. "Once I got to walk around campus I kind of just knew it was the place for me. Toledo just really hit the spot for me the first time."

Pertzborn, who made her visit to Toledo the first week of April, said "about six schools" showed interest in her and she had offers from the University of Texas at San Antonio, UW-Green Bay and Minnesota State, Mankato — with UTSA her second choice.

It’s easy to see why there was heavy interest in the Cardinals’ standout.

Pertzborn was named first-team all-Big Eight Conference last season after leading Middleton with 89 total blocks. She was also second on the team in kills (288), had a whopping .497 kill percentage, was fourth in aces (45) and sixth in digs (108).

“Sierra has blossomed so much these last couple of seasons, and I feel so fortunate to have been able to watch it happen,” Middleton coach Maddie Vogel said. “Her competitive spirit is what sets her apart from other players. Sierra does not settle, and that inspires those around her to reach beyond what they would be capable of otherwise.”

Pertzborn said she plans on studying either healthcare administration or sports marketing, and the fact that one of her future teammates at Toledo spoke so highly of the healthcare admin program was a factor in her decision to pick the Rockets over the Roadrunners.

LaScala had a terrific junior season of her own and was also named first-team all-Big Eight.

LaScala led the Cardinals with 466 kills and had an outstanding hitting percentage of .388. LaScala was also second on the team in digs (333) and third in aces (47).

“Jordan is an all-around phenomenal player and leader on and off the court,” Vogel said. “Jordan consistently led the Big Eight in kills, which is not an easy feat in a conference as strong as ours.

“She is solid across the board, from hitting to serve receive to defense to serving. I can put all my trust in Jordan and she consistently gets the job done.”

LaScala plans on studying either film or math and UWM's reputation as a strong school for film students played a role in her choosing the Panthers.

LaScala said location — the fact Milwaukee is close enough to home for her family and friends to come visit and watch her play — as well as the buzz and culture in Milwaukee also tilted her decision in favor of UWM over Macalester (St. Paul, Minn.), Queens College and the University of Chicago.

The talented Cardinals duo — who led Middleton to the Big Eight title last year and a trip to the WIAA Division 1 sectional finals — had each other as support throughout the recruiting process.

"We were on the same club volleyball team together and we practiced with each other three nights a week and then tournaments on the weekend," Pertzborn said. "We definitely did lean on each other, and I would recommend that to other recruits, as well, because it's a tough process to go through alone."

Tough because it can be overwhelming, which is why both agreed it's nice to have made their decisions prior to their senior years and the start of the high school volleyball season.

"It was definitely very time consuming, kind of like a part-time job," Pertzborn said. "It was calls every day after school, texts 24-7. I also played basketball and that's during club volleyball season, so

I was taking phone calls after basketball headed to my club practice. Sometimes before I hung out with friends I took a phone call in the car.

"So when I was looking forward to my senior year, I was kind of hoping to be done with the process."

LaScala echoed those sentiments, adding that for her, it helped that her mother played volleyball in college at Northern Illinois and was a terrific resource.

"She was very supportive, especially the mental health aspect because it is kind of stressful," LaScala said. "Sometimes there's disappointments and she was very helpful through that."

Now both girls get to zero in on their final year of high school volleyball and chasing a state championship.

But while their college decisions get moved to the backburner for the time being, they still mark milestone moments in their lives.

"It definitely is a memory I'll never forget, being told I have a spot on the team,” LaScala said.


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