Volleyball sweeps Pizza Hut Classic

By: Austin Walther and Brady Van Deurzen

Senior Lexi Thiel recorded 134 assists over the weekend.
[/media-credit] Senior Lexi Thiel recorded 134 assists over the weekend.

The UW Oshkosh women’s volleyball team extended its winning streak to six games after defeating four teams in the Pizza Hut Classic on Sept. 9 and 10 while reclaiming a spot in the top 25 and improving its record to 8-2 overall.
This was the Titans’ first home match of the season and head coach Brian Schaefer said it came at a great time.
“I think being at home helped us out a lot over the weekend,” Schaefer said. “The freshmen are experiencing a lot right now with classes, the rigors of the season and we are asking a lot out of them as all of them contribute in some way within our program.”
In the final game of the classic, the Titans jumped out to an early 16-9 lead over Concordia University Wisconsin. The Falcons committed eight errors during the first set, which led to UWO going up 1-0.
The second set featured 11 ties when finally, at 15-15, the Titans were able to take the lead for good when freshman Shannon Herman recorded a kill.
UWO never trailed in the third and final set as they recorded the final five points with kills from senior Brooke Brinkman and freshman Samantha Jaeke and blocks from Herman, Brinkman and Jaeke.
Schaefer said he was impressed with the way the team blocked balls over the course of the whole classic.
“Brooke Brinkman has really worked hard to secure a starting role as a middle blocker,” Schaefer said. “And with our entire team pushing each other, we are going to get better as a team each day.”
The Titans defeated the Falcons 3-0 with scores of 25-14, 25-22 and 25-16.
Both Jaeke (12) and sophomore Tina Elstner (11) recorded double digit kills for the Titans. Senior Lexi Thiel recorded 30 assists and sophomore Katie Hodges recorded 16 digs.
Jaeke said everyone worked great as a team all weekend and they blended very well, which was the reason for big defeats in certain sets.
“We all had energy and fun on the court,” Jaeke said. “When the other team got a few points on us, we didn’t freak out. We just sided out and then pushed more points.”
UWO opened up play on Saturday against The College of St. Scholastica (Minn.) and raced out to an early 12-3 lead in the first set and never trailed by more than five for the rest of the first.
The Saints were within three at 14-11 in the second, but the Titans quickly scored five unanswered points and went up 2-0 in the match.
After the Saints took an early lead at 4-1, UWO was able to stay with them, tie the game at 18 and rattle off seven consecutive points to win the match.
The Titans defeated the Saints 3-0 with scores of 25-12, 25-15 and 25-18.
Elstner led the Titans with nine kills. Thiel recorded 26 assists and 13 digs while Hodges recorded 10 digs.
UWO faced 22nd ranked Millikin University (Ill.) in the second game of the classic on Friday. The Titans jumped out to an 11-2 lead in the first set and never looked back for an early 1-0 advantage.
UWO only led once in the second at 9-8 and the Big Blue closed out the set by scoring the final three points off of Titan errors and a service ace.
With the match tied at one, Millikin took an early 15-7 lead. The Titans responded by tying the game at 19, but the Big Blue pulled ahead at 22-21 and took the 2-1 advantage.
The Titans responded to even the match at two when they tied the game at 19 and Jaeke gave UWO the win with a kill.
In the fifth set, with the score 12-8, the Titans scored the next three out of four points to upset the Big Blue.
UWO defeated Millikin 3-2 with scores of 25-16, 20-25, 21-25, 25-20 and 15-9.
Elstner led the Titans with 15 kills. Thiel recorded 40 assists and Hodges recorded 17 digs.
UWO opened up classic play on Friday against Milwaukee School of Engineering with an early 16-10 lead in the first. The Raiders eventually tied the match at 22, took a couple of leads, but a kill by sophomore Carly Lemke secured the two-point victory for the Titans.
In the second and third set, the Titans only trailed for two points and cruised for a three set sweep of the Raiders.
UWO defeated MSOE 3-0 with scores of 27-25, 25-18 and 25-13.
Elstner led the Titans with 14 kills. Thiel recorded 38 assists and Hodges recorded 14 digs.
Schaefer said their first ball contact was great over the weekend. With a new libero in place this season and other girls stepping up, Schaefer thought the team played well together.
“We had solid passing from Laura Trochinski and Rachel Gardner and Katie Hodges is settling into the libero position,” Schaefer said. “All three, along with Tina Elstner, have been steady since our opening weekend in Atlanta.”
Freshman Rachel Gardner is being added into the mix more and she said the team has finally found a good rotation that works.
“We have improved by settling on a strong lineup that has already helped us perform better than we did at the start of the season,” Gardner said. “Our communication on and off the court has really started to improve and we are starting to gel more as a team which really helps us perform better.”