Volleyball wins third conference game

Austin Walther

Senior Katelyn Malcheski recorded a game high 16 kills while hitting .324 percent on 34 total attacks recording 18 points.
[/media-credit] Senior Katelyn Malcheski recorded a game high 16 kills while hitting .324 percent on 34 total attacks recording 18 points.

The 19th-ranked UW Oshkosh women’s volleyball team resumed conference play on Wednesday, Oct. 7 against UW-La Crosse after taking one out of three games in Colorado. To honor breast cancer awareness month, UWO held its annual Take Down Cancer Night against the Eagles. The Titans used a 10-3 run after the first set was tied at five to take an early 1-0 lead in the match. La Crosse raced out to an early 12-6 lead in the second set, but the Titans answered with a 13-4 run to go onto win the set. In the third set, Oshkosh never held a lead larger than five, but it was just enough to sweep the Eagles 3-0 with sets of 25-20, 25-20 and 25-20. Senior Katelyn Malcheski led the Titans with 16 kills. Junior Lexi Thiel recorded 35 assists and senior Mandy Trautmann recorded 11 digs. On the second day of competition in Colorado, the Titans faced Cornell College (Iowa). The Rams have only won five games this year, and they lost in the Regional Final of the NCAA Tournament a year ago, but head coach Brian Schaefer said they play a lot better than their record shows. “We never thought they were bad,” Schaefer said. “They have a senior and some juniors returning from that team.” The game began with the Titans securing a nine-point victory in the first set after racing out to an early 7-1 lead. Cornell erased a four- point deficit in the second set by going on a 7-1 run to go ahead 15-13. UWO tied the match at 24, but two consecutive kills from the Rams evened the match at one. The Titans controlled set three after they jumped out to an 18-10 lead. The lead was trimmed 21-19 late, but a 4-1 run helped UWO take a 2-1 lead. The Rams outhit the Titans .429 to .000 in set four to take the match to five sets for the fifth consecutive game. UWO scored eight out of eleven points in the fifth to set up match point at 14-11. The Rams rattled off two consecutive points, but Thiel and junior Nerissa Vogt came up with a block to secure the 3-2 victory over Cornell with sets of 25-16, 24-26, 25-20, 12-25 and 15-13. Vogt led the Titans with 16 kills and 11 block assists. Thiel recorded 38 assists and Trautmann recorded 19 digs. Thiel and Vogt were named to the eight-player all-tournament team. Schaefer said he was impressed with Thiel and Vogt along with junior Allison Rueger. “That match was a testament of individual performances,” Schaefer said. “They collectively put the team on their back and led us to victory.” The Titans continued play on Friday against the ninth- ranked host school Colorado College. The Tigers led the entire first set after scoring the first six points and fending off the Titans after they came within one at 13-12. In the second and third set, UWO held Colorado to a total hitting percentage of -.024 and used runs of 14-7 and 16-8 to go ahead 2-1. Oshkosh raced out to a 17-12 lead in the fourth set, but Colorado came away with four straight points to cut the Titan lead to one. The set was then tied seven times for a total of 15 when the Tigers used two errors to force a fifth set. The Tigers controlled the fifth set early at 8-1. UWO turned the set around by going on an 11-5 run and eventually setting up match point at 14-3, but Colorado scored three consecutive points to win the match 3-2 with sets of 25-14, 18-25, 18-25, 28-26 and 16-14. Schaefer said the Titans had multiple opportunities to win the match, but they suffered a couple mental mistakes. “It starts with each individual calling the ball,” Schaefer said. “The bottom line is we have to learn how to trust each other.” Vogt led the Titans with 14 kills followed by Malcheski and Rueger with 10 a piece. Thiel recorded 39 assists and Trautmann recorded 23 digs. UWO opened play at the Pikes Peak Classic in Colorado Springs against 15th-ranked Elmhurst College (Ill.). The Bluejays outhit the Titans .400 to .071 to take the first set by 10 points. Oshkosh took an early 14-13 lead in the second and fended off a late deficit at 22-20 with help from scoring the last five points of the set. The Titans scored the first two points of the third set, but the Bluejays answered with five consecutive points of its own and held on to take back the match lead. After the fourth set was tied for the 11th and final time at 18, Oshkosh took the lead for good to force a fifth set. The Titans raced out to a 7-3 lead in the fifth set, but the Bluejays scored the next seven out of ten points to tie the set at 10 and eventually defeated the Titans 3-2 with sets of 25-15, 22-25, 25-20, 20-25 and 15-13. Brianna Witter led the Titans with career-high 13 kills. Thiel recorded 42 assists and Trautmann recorded 18 digs. In her first year with the volleyball team, Witter said she was just trying to do her part in the starting lineup. “It felt pretty good,” Witter said. “I ran a lot of short-back sets because they had problems closing the block.” Elmhurst is a regional opponent of the Titans and Schaefer said it could come down to one of the two teams making it to the NCAA tournament, and Oshkosh didn’t take advantage of that. “In crucial times we need to be a little bit more aggressive,” Schaefer said. “We have to process information a little bit more.” Even though the trip was three games in two days, the Titans had the opportunity to experience different attractions. Schaefer said they visited Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods and a cool restaurant in the mountains. “My philosophy is to do stuff while you’re traveling,” Schaefer said. “The non-volleyball part was amazing to some of the girls.” Despite having its five- game winning streak snapped, Vogt said she feels like they could’ve defeated the nationally-ranked teams. “Everything was collective,” Vogt said. “Everyone had good games and it just came down to who pushed the hardest.”