JAKE NAUGHTON/Herald photoFor sophomore outside hitter Brittney Dolgner, volleyball is a family affair. Both of her older sisters played at the collegiate level, and now, her younger sister has stepped into her shoes as the left outside hitter at Waupun High School in Waupun, Wis. “She is still trying to catch up to me, which is really cute,” Dolgner said.The family tradition of playing volleyball is what attracted Dolgner to begin playing in fourth grade. She said going to her older sisters’ high school matches and seeing the energy the crowd brought to the game is what made the game exciting and interesting for her.“I loved watching it, loved going to state and loved traveling,” Dolgner said. “I just loved the game.”Dolgner, who led Waupun High School to four consecutive state titles, is long gone from her prep glory days. Last year, Dolgner became the first freshman in Wisconsin history to be named All Big Ten. She also led the team in kills with 461, averaging 4.12 per game.This year, she leads the eighth-ranked Wisconsin volleyball team and the Big Ten in kills, averaging 4.84 per game. She has stepped up her pace during an eight match double digit kills streak, averaging 5.39 kills per game. Against No. 2 Penn State, Dolgner notched 27 kills. “Brit is an awesome athlete,” co-captain Taylor Reineke said. “She jumps through the roof.”Dolgner came to Wisconsin as one of the highest recruited players in the state. She was a three-time Mizuno All-American and 2005 PrepVolleyball.com player of the year. But she said there was no real external pressure to perform.“It was all for myself because I had high expectations and I wanted to do well,” Dolgner said. “Coming in, I didn’t want to let my team down and let my family down.”As a freshman, Dolgner made 31 starts in 33 matches and played in 112 games. Though she started right away, she had to adapt to the speed of the college game. “The first game I out, against Texas, I was terrified,” Dolgner said. “But I came out, made a couple of digs, and I’m like: ‘I can do this; this isn’t so bad.’”Now more than a year removed from her Badger debut, Dolgner says her goal is to become a well-rounded player; she wants to become a better blocker and get more digs per game, which she said comes with time and watching older teammates.“Taylor [Reineke], Audra [Jeffers] and Jackie [Simpson] are great blockers, and [I have to] just watch their fundamentals and techniques,” Dolgner said.Head coach Pete Waite agrees that she needs to improve on her blocking and defense but says her offensive ability is great.“She finds ways to score in the front row and the back row,” Waite said. “And there have been times this year when she has carried a big load for us.”So far this season, Dolgner is on pace to not only have more blocks this year, but also to have more kills. Halfway through the season, she already has 295 kills and 40 blocks.Dolgner attributes her improvement to the support of her teammates. She said even when she makes errors in games or in practice, her teammates tell her not to worry about it and move on to the next play. According to Waite, she works hard in practice, but is also able to enjoy the game.“Especially match time, she really cranks it up a notch,” he said. “Some players are going hard all the time, but they don’t have another level to take it to. She is able to, and really elevate above the rest.”It is Dolgner’s temperament and attitude toward that game that has made her successful and a great teammate.“She’s just funny and goofy, and she makes you laugh,” Reineke said. “It’s easy to feel comfortable around her. I think that’s important in a teammate.” Dolgner’s personal performance is not only important for the team now, but for the future as well. She is part of a sophomore class, which includes outside hitters Caity DuPont and Katherine Dykstra, that will prove to be the nucleus of the team in years to come.“We are glad they will be around for a while because we will be losing a lot of players out of this senior class,” Waite said. “They will really have to step up next year and lead the team.”They already have shown great promise, as Dolgner, Dykstra and DuPont account for almost half of the team’s 1,102 kills and half of the team’s 220 total blocks. For now, though, Dolgner does not have to worry about taking charge. Instead she can concentrate on being a contributor to the team and, more importantly, tending to family matters like helping her younger sister, Brandi, become yet another star Dolgner on the court.
PLAYA VISTA — Paul Pierce played the first 15 seasons of his career with the Boston Celtics, so season-to-season familiarity was strong.Now Pierce is on the verge of playing for his third team in as many seasons.The Clippers small forward toiled for Brooklyn in 2013-14 and for Washington in 2014-15. Not that he’s having issues fitting in because … he’s Paul Pierce. “It’s going pretty good,” he said at practice Monday morning. “A lot of these guys I’ve known before I got here, so as far as getting to know them off the court, that wasn’t a problem. Pierce, who turned 38 on Oct. 13, has been a starter his entire career. Even last season, at 37, he started all 73 games in which he played for the Wizards. Of 1,250 career games, he’s started 1,240.Wesley Johnson, another newcomer, is the other leading candidate to start at small forward.Pierce, out of Inglewood, is 16th on the all-time scoring list with 25,899 points. His career scoring average is 20.7.Rivalry heating upThe Clippers (1-3) on Tuesday night at Staples Center will take on the defending champion Golden State Warriors (2-3) in exhibition play.Rivers and some of the Warriors have been going back and forth because of a recent comment made by Rivers, who noted to Grantland.com that a team has to have some luck to advance out of the West.As proof, he pointed out the Warriors did not have to play the Clippers or the Spurs in the playoffs.The Warriors took that as Rivers saying they were lucky to win the NBA title, and Rivers has said several times his comment was not meant like that.“I don’t pay much attention to all that stuff,” Rivers said Monday. “I was on that side before and you can almost say what you want. You won, so you have the right to say whatever you feel like saying.“To the victors goes the spoils. They can talk trash, they can walk with a swagger, they can do whatever they want. They’re the champs.” “I think it’s just all about getting adjusted to everybody’s game, getting adjusted to a new offense, style of play. That’s pretty much the main thing right there, but that’s going pretty good.”Clippers coach Doc Rivers was the coach at Boston for the last nine years Pierce was there, the two winning a title together in 2008. Rivers said he knew Pierce would adapt to his new surroundings with no problem.“He’s fitting in great,” Rivers said. “Whenever he’s on the floor, he’s going to figure it out because he’s played for a thousand years and he knows how to play, he knows how to fit in.”The question remains, will Pierce start or come off the bench? Rivers said he still doesn’t know the answer, but Pierce spoke in confident tones about either scenario.“I think it’s just about developing a chemistry, regardless, because I feel I can play with anybody,” Pierce said. “And I can play multiple positions, do multiple things on the court. So whether it’s with the first or second unit, I feel I’m a good enough player to make that adjustment.” Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error