Volleyball falls to last place in WIAC

Cole Stumpner

On Wednesday, the UW Oshkosh women’s volleyball team played UW-Whitewater and fell to the Warhawks. That makes the Titans 8-10 on the season thus far.

The Titans fell in four sets: 25-17, 19-25, 20-15 and 19-25.

The Titans came out in the first set with a purpose, scoring four unanswered points to begin. Soon the Titans led 9-4. Whitewater began to mount a comeback, bringing the score to 9-7 with the help of a service ace and some errors from Oshkosh, but a service error gave the Titans the momentum they needed to bring the score to 15-9. UWO kept its lead, racking the score up to 22-17 before Whitewater called timeout.

The second set saw the Warhawks taking the first point with a block, but the Titans struck back and gained the lead with a kill from sophomore outside hitter Samantha Jaeke. Oshkosh capitalized on the moment and brought the score to 5-3. Following this was a back-and-forth battle with the Titans keeping two points ahead, until a tip and a kill from Whitewater tied the score at 6-6. From here the battle continued, with the Warhawks slowly gaining a lead on Oshkosh.

Oshkosh called timeout with the score at 8-11, and came out fired up afterwards, gaining the lead with a kill from junior Renee Rush, two blocks and an error from Whitewater. However, it wasn’t long before Whitewater tied the score at 16-16, and soon took the lead. The Warhawks took their first set.

The third set started much the same as the second, with Whitewater taking the first point off of an Oshkosh error. The Titans were able to tie the game three times early on, at 1-1, 2-2, and 3-3, but they were held by the Warhawks from taking the lead.

The fourth set started with Whitewater taking the lead 5-0. A Whitewater error and kills by Lemke and Elstner brought Oshkosh onto the board. With help from two more kills by Elstner, the Titans brought the score within one point at 6-7. Whitewater kept the Titans from gaining the lead once more however, and took the match.

Ellmann said the team will learn from every match, whether it be a win or loss.

“I think whether you win or lose there’s a lesson to be learned,” Ellmann said. “I think people tend to think that the lessons come when you lose, but that’s not necessarily the case. Every time you step on the court and play, you’re going to learn something.”

Elstner says teamwork will be a major factor in bringing the Titans success in the future.

“Just like collaborating, or working together really well. We need to fight through matches, like I said, don’t let up during games.” Elstner said.

The team lost its matches last week in the Barker Chevrolet Classic II in Illinois and at home. The Titans faced off against Millikin University and Illinois Wesleyan University on Sept. 22, and finished up the tournament against the University of Chicago and Tufts University the following day.

Starting off Friday in the Barker Chevrolet tournament, the Titans faced off against eighth-ranked Millikin. It was the first time Millikin had beaten the Titans since 2012. Oshkosh lost to the Big Blue in four sets: 25-21, 18-25, 18-25 and 30-32.

Junior Tina Elstner and sophomore Samantha Jaeke contributed 10 kills apiece, while sophomore Rachel Gardner pitched in a career high of 33 digs during the match.

Next up that day was Illinois Wesleyan University. This time the Titans were swept in a 3-0 match, 20-25, 12-25 and 15-25. Leading the team in kills was Jaeke with eight, followed by junior Carly Lemke with five and freshman Shelby Coron with four. Leading the team in digs once again was Gardner with 14.

Saturday started the Titans off against University of Chicago. Oshkosh fell again in four matches: 24-26, 22-25, 25-23 and 14-25. Elstner led the team in kills with 16, and Gardner led the team in digs with 26, followed by junior Katie Hodges with 20.

After facing Chicago, Oshkosh faced Tufts University and fell after five hard-fought sets of 22-25, 25-18, 20-25, 25-22 and 13-15. Once again Elstner led the team with 18 kills, with Gardner earning 25 digs.

Gardner said there were areas the team succeeded in at the Classic that can help the team in future matches.

“Some things we did well this weekend was we are starting to connect better with our hitters,” Gardner said. “Our servers improved a lot this weekend, and just our overall play, our character on the court has improved a lot, just overall our team chemistry has majorly improved.”

Head coach Jon Ellmann said in regards to preparation for the Whitewater match, the Titans would not have to make any major adjustments, but they would have to make some active reads.

“Whitewater plays a rotational defense and has a really dynamic right side attacker, who’s got a wide range of shots, and so our defense based on their shot selection over the last few matches matches up really well,” Ellmann said. “We don’t have to make a lot of defensive adjustments, but we do have to read with our eyes and be able to pick up cues on the attackers and make some adjustments on the fly. So if we just sit and trust that they’re going to hit into our defense, we’re not going to have a great defensive match. If we can be active in our reads and do some things on the fly we feel like we can really gain an advantage.”

The team continues on the road against UW-Eau Claire on Saturday.