Titans upset Whitewater at home

Austin Walther

Lexi Thiel Recorded a game high 45 assists against Whitewater while Katelyn Malcheski recorded 18 kills.
[/media-credit] Lexi Thiel Recorded a game high 45 assists against Whitewater while Katelyn Malcheski recorded 18 kills.

The 21st-ranked UW Oshkosh women’s volleyball team began conference play with a five set victory over 15th-ranked UW-Whitewater on Wednesday night to put its overall record at 13-3 and conference record at 1-0. Head coach Brian Schaefer said the conference and region are shaping up to be tough this year, so there’s an urge for a strong performance in the conference opener. “We have to have a signature win against a team that’s ranked,” Schaefer said. “Our region is incredible, and everyone is beating each other.” There are currently seven teams nationally ranked by the American Volleyball Coaches Association from the Midwest region. This is only the second top-25 opponent the Titans have faced all year. Oshkosh fell to, at the time, ninth-ranked Washington University (Mo.) 3-1 at the ASICS Invitational on Sept. 5 in St. Louis, Missouri. Junior Nerissa Vogt said she feels like they could’ve beaten Washington, and that has motivated them ever since. “The fire has been lit,” Vogt said. “Having that level of play early on is only going to benefit us.” The Titans have rattled off nine consecutive sets won after falling to Dominican University (Ill.), who have been in and out of the top 25, in the final game of the Pizza Hut Classic. Senior Katelyn Malcheski said she knew they needed momentum for when they started conference play. “We regrouped and wanted to set a good base for heading into conference play,” Malcheski said. “Having won three games in a row makes us feel pretty good about Whitewater.” A year ago, the Titans had won 15 consecutive games heading into the match against the Warhawks and fell 3-0 in Whitewater. UWO lost its second game to Whitewater in the 2014 Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference semi-final game, and Vogt said those matches left a bad taste in their mouth. “Everyone is super motivated,” Vogt said. “The big batch of freshman will have our backs, and we’re ready to bring home a win with that.” Prior to the match on Wednesday night, Whitewater lost WIAC spotlight senior Jessica Sabey to a season ending injury. The Warhawks lost its first match against Edgewood College without Sabey, but Schaefer said it would still be difficult to prepare for whoever replaces her on the outside. “We don’t necessarily know what that other hitter is going to do,” Schaefer said. “They have enough tools that either way they’re going to be good.” Malcheski said playing a rival like Whitewater at home is a great feeling. “It’s a huge game, and having it at home is awesome,” Malcheski said. “I really hope there is a crowd to bring lots of energy to Kolf.” The first set raced out to an 8-8 tie, but Whitewater was able to go on runs of six and five points to secure the 11-point victory. The Titans jumped out to a 4-3 lead in the second, but the Warhawks used a 4-0 run to secure the lead for the remainder of the set. UWO tied the match at nine, which was part of a 4-0 run to go ahead 11-9, helped the Titans avoid a sweep. After multiple ties throughout the fourth set, UWO scored four out of the last five points to send the match to the fifth set. In the final set, UWO broke a 2-2 tie and used a 13-4 run to upset the 15th-ranked Warhawks 3-2 with sets of 14-25, 15-25, 25-20, 25-22 and 15-6. Malcheski led the Titans with 18 kills followed by Vogt with 11. Junior Lexi Thiel recorded 45 assists and senior Mandy Trautmann recorded 28 digs. In order to pull out the victory, Malcheski said they were going to watch film and prepare for specific things Whitewater does. “As with any challenging team, I think we just need to focus on our game,” Malcheski said. “As long as we play well, I know we can beat them.” With conference play under way, Schaefer said this is the time the team needs to begin to focus if it wants to make a run at the national tournament. “It’s the start of our season as far as what we have in our heads,” Schaefer said. “You obviously want to be one of the better teams in your conference, and we have to put it together.”