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Titans Open Season With Mixed Results

Lexi Thiel collected 55 assists and 17 digs during the Titans' win over the College of Saint Benedict.
Lexi Thiel collected 55 assists and 17 digs during the Titans' win over the College of Saint Benedict.

UW-Oshkosh opened its 2016 women's volleyball season by splitting a pair of matches at the Emory University Classic on Friday (Sept. 2) in Atlanta, Ga.

The Titans slipped past the College of Saint Benedict (Minn.), 3-2, before falling to Emory University, 3-0, in a matchup of nationally ranked teams.

UW-Oshkosh defeated the College of Saint Benedict by set scores of 25-23, 20-25, 20-25, 28-26, 15-8. Emory University, ranked fourth in the NCAA Division III by the American Volleyball Coaches Association, ousted the 25th-ranked Titans, 25-16, 25-22, 25-18.

UW-Oshkosh (1-1) claimed its fourth consecutive victory over the College of Saint Benedict (1-1) while Emory University (2-0), the 2008 national champion, has now won two of its three meetings with the Titans.

UW-Oshkosh setter Lexi Thiel recorded her 22nd career double-double, collecting 55 assists and 17 digs against the College of Saint Benedict, and 25 assists and 14 digs against Emory University.

In the season opener, UW-Oshkosh erased a 19-12 deficit in the fourth set and went on to outlast the College of Saint Benedict.

Tina Elstner led the Titans with career highs of 14 kills and 18 digs en route to her first double-double.

The Titans also received career bests of 12 kills from Carly Lemke, 21 digs from Laura Trochinski and 10 digs by Katie Hodges.

Brooke Brinkman and Samantha Jaeke registered 13 kills apiece for UW-Oshkosh while Brinkman added a career-high nine digs and a team-leading three blocks. Shannon Herman chipped in 10 kills and Madison Micech 10 digs.

UW-Oshkosh held advantages in kills (64-55), hitting percentage (.153 to .108) and digs (91-90).

The Titans took a 7-6 lead in the first set and maintained an advantage until the Blazers reclaimed a 21-20 edge on an attack error. Tied at 23, UW-Oshkosh recorded the final two points of the frame on a kill by Jaeke and an attack error by the Blazers.

The College of Saint Benedict used long runs to secure the second and third sets. The Titans opened up a 17-8 lead in the second set, but the Blazers responded with 16 of the next 18 points. Tied at 15 in the third set, the Blazers scored 10 of the last 15 points.

The Blazers were seemingly cruising to an overall victory after jumping out to leads of 15-9 and 19-12 in the fourth set, but UW-Oshkosh rallied to knot the score at 21 behind four kills, two blocks, one ace and two College of Saint Benedict errors. A kill by Brinkman later gave the Titans set-point, and a combination block by Brinkman and Elstner on the following point extended the match.

In the decisive set, a College of Saint Benedict attack error and a combination block by Herman and Lemke sparked a six-point run that gave the Titans a 7-2 lead. The Blazers trimmed their deficit to 10-7 on a UW-Oshkosh attack error, but Herman answered with a kill on the ensuing point and Brinkman capped the Titans' comeback with a kill to end the match.

Briana Schmiesing and Liz Schultz led the Blazers with 13 kills apiece while Melissa Koop added 11 kills and 17 digs. Megan Pekarek piloted the College of Saint Benedict offense and totaled 47 assists. Schultz and Haley Lavalle led all players with four blocks and 27 digs, respectively.

Against Emory University, UW-Oshkosh held leads in each of the three sets, but the Eagles pounded down 54 kills and hit .328 to secure a sweep over the Titans. UW-Oshkosh swept Emory University in their most recent meeting in 2007, and the Eagles downed the Titans, 3-0, in the first matchup, in 2002.

Karissa Dzurik had a match-high 11 kills for the Eagles. Jessica Holler and Sydney Leimbach both contributed 10 kills and Morgan McKnight nine.

Hannah Billings and Sarah Porter dished out 16 assists apiece while sharing setting duties for the efficient Emory University offense. Billings added a match-best three service aces.

UW-Oshkosh held leads of 5-4 in the first set, 22-18 in the second and 12-10 in the third, but the higher-ranked Eagles had an answer in each frame.

Emory University, which has won 137 of its 148 home matches since 2007, scored 10 of 11 points to claim a 14-6 lead in the first set and used a pair of five-point runs to pull away in the third.

In the second set, two kills and a solo block by Lemke gave UW-Oshkosh a 15-12 edge. Another kill by Lemke extended the UW-Oshkosh lead to 22-18 before Emory University reclaimed a 23-22 advantage on consecutive kills by Porter. Another Lemke kill knotted the score at 23, but the Titans committed errors on the following two points to give the Eagles a two-set lead.

Jaeke paced the Titans with 10 kills on .429 hitting, and Lemke added seven kills and two blocks.

UW-Oshkosh was held to 28 kills on .202 hitting despite Emory University failing to record a block.

UW-Oshkosh concludes play at the Emory University Classic with matches against Birmingham-Southern College (Ala.) and the University of St. Thomas (Minn.) on Saturday (Sept. 3).