Hello, My Name Is: Savannah Epping, Jazelle Hartwig & Addison Lavicka

The 1-2-3 of the Athens volleyball team have the Bluejays knocking on the door of an historic season
Published: Oct. 3, 2022 at 10:55 PM CDT
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ATHENS, Wis. (WSAW) - Bump. Set. Hit.

The melodic one-two-three of volleyball is essential. In Athens, it runs from Savannah Epping to Jazelle Hartwig to Addison Lavicka.

“We’re all friends off the court,” said Epping. “In school, we see each other a lot and we’re just best friends basically every day.”

The terrific trio of Epping at libero, Hartwig at setter, and Lavicka as a key hitter have led Athens to at least a share of the Marawood North crown. Success is something attributed to the closeness of the group.

“I think definitely just our friendships and being together all the time and having, being at school together,” said Jazelle. “I think our friendships are definitely number one.”

Not only is their success regional, but they’re legit at the state level. The Bluejays are the number one team in D4. They haven’t dropped a five-set match all season long. However, it’s not just these three shouldering the load. It’s a team-wide effort.

“We got everything,” said Lavicka. “We got great passers. We got great hitters all around. It’s just all coming together, working together.”

Working together, some could say, like a family. For a few, that’s actually the case. Jazelle, along with her sister Sy’Rih, are daughters of head coach Tanille Hartwig. The coach/parent dynamic is nothing new, but for the Hartwigs, the communication is strong on and off the court.

“I’ve heard of some coaches that really need to draw the line when they leave the gym and become mom, but I feel like they’re able to have those conversations, whether it’s on the court or at home,” said Tanille. “They’re able to mentally handle it, because they have a passion to get better.”

It’s a dynamic that the elder of the two Hartwig sisters really enjoys.

“Volleyball doesn’t end for us when we leave the gym,” said Jazelle. “We talk a lot at home, a lot of gameplay, a lot of motivation. I don’t know, it’s very fun.”

The sisters, as well as the rest of the team, aren’t shy in sharing their goal for the season; a trip to state, a place the Bluejays haven’t been since 2016. The dream has been in place since watching that team as kids.”

”I remember having a talk with Coach T in eighth grade and she’s telling us about how much potential we had and that we’d be able to get there someday,” said Lavicka.

For ‘Coach T’. it’s not an outlandish goal considering the work ethic.

“They have a lot of natural, God-given talent, which is something a lot of people don’t have,” said Tanille. “On top of that, they have a drive to just put that work in that they have the talent, but they’re applying it to the best of their abilities.”

As the Bluejays see the postseason on the horizon, the goal is very much in reach. However, regardless of the end result, they’re proud of what they’ve put together in Athens.

“It definitely feels good leaving a legacy and that people will be looking up to you once you graduate,” said Epping.

”It would mean a lot just knowing that that team put the year on the banner, would mean a lot to us,” said Jazelle.

The Bluejays can clinch the conference title outright Tuesday night against Chequamegon. It would be their first conference crown since 2017.