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Titans Oust Raiders, 22nd-Ranked Big Blue

Lexi Thiel had 40 assists and 13 digs in UW-Oshkosh's five-set victory over 22nd-ranked Millikin University.
Lexi Thiel had 40 assists and 13 digs in UW-Oshkosh's five-set victory over 22nd-ranked Millikin University.

UW-Oshkosh increased its winning streak to four matches with a pair of women's volleyball victories to open the UW-Oshkosh Pizza Hut Classic on Friday (Sept. 9) in Kolf Sports Center.

UW-Oshkosh (6-2) won its home opener, 3-0, over Milwaukee School of Engineering (0-2) and upset nationally ranked Millikin University (Ill.), 3-2. Millikin University (4-2) entered the contest ranked 22nd in the NCAA Division III by the American Volleyball Coaches Association.

The Titans, who own a 4-0 record in five-set matches this season, swept the Raiders in set scores of 27-25, 25-18, 25-13 and outlasted the Big Blue, 25-16, 20-25, 21-25, 25-20, 15-9.

UW-Oshkosh has won each of the three previous meetings with the Raiders and 13 of 14 matchups with the Big Blue since 1995.

Tina Elstner led the Titans in both matches, collecting 14 kills against Milwaukee School of Engineering, and 15 kills and 10 digs against Millikin University for her fifth double-double of the year.

Against Milwaukee School of Engineering, UW-Oshkosh staved off two set-points in the first frame and cruised in the final two stanzas.

The Titans held advantages in kills (43-23), hitting percentage (.327 to .033), digs (40-34) and blocks (6-2) while the Raiders collected eight service aces to UW-Oshkosh's two.

Shannon Herman added eight kills for UW-Oshkosh, which also received seven kills and four blocks from Samantha Jaeke, 21 assists from Lexi Thiel and 14 digs from Katie Hodges.

UW-Oshkosh built a 16-10 lead in the first set on a kill by Jaeke, but Milwaukee School of Engineering scored four consecutive points to tie the score at 22. The Raiders owned leads of 24-23 and 25-24, but a kill by Jaeke denied the first set-point and a service error knotted the score at 25. A kill by Carly Lemke provided the Titans a 26-25 advantage, and an attack error by Milwaukee School of Engineering ended the frame.

The Titans trailed for just two points – both in the second set – after the first frame. UW-Oshkosh reclaimed a 3-2 lead in the second set and held an advantage for the remainder of the match. The Titans scored four straight points for a 13-6 lead in the second set and tallied the first three points of the third stanza.

UW-Oshkosh hit .345 in the second set and .429 with 18 kills in the third.

Hannah Pekarek paced the Raiders with six kills while Allie Laurent had 11 assists and Aleah Quast 12 digs.

In the triumph over Millikin University, UW-Oshkosh never trailed in the first set, and the Big Blue was behind for just one point over the next two frames. The Titans tallied seven of the final eight points during the fourth set and secured the upset by scoring six of the final seven points in the decisive frame.

UW-Oshkosh owned narrow advantages in hitting percentage (.190 to .181), service aces (8-7), digs (65-51) and blocks (11.5 to 9) while Millikin University registered 49 kills to the Titans' 48.

The Titans scored the first five points of the match on a pair of service aces by Thiel, two kills by Elstner and a Big Blue error. UW-Oshkosh extended its lead to 11-2 and held an advantage of at least five points for the remainder of the set.

UW-Oshkosh took its only lead of the second set at 9-8 on a kill by Elstner. Clinging to a 21-19 edge, Millikin University marked the next three points on a pair of Titan errors and a service ace.

The Big Blue jumped out to a 15-7 lead in the third set, but the Titans pulled even at 19 after scoring six unanswered points on four Millikin University errors, a service ace by Laura Trochinski and a kill by Lemke. Two UW-Oshkosh errors allowed the Big Blue to reclaim a 22-20 advantage. Leading 22-21, Millikin University tallied the final three points on a pair of kills and a service ace on set-point.

Millikin University created a 15-11 lead in the fourth set following back-to-back kills, but a five-point run by UW-Oshkosh, capped by a combination block from Thiel and Brooke Brinkman, put the Titans ahead. A kill by Elstner knotted the set at 19, and UW-Oshkosh took the lead for good on a Big Blue attack error on the following point. The Titans received kills from Shannon Herman and Brinkman, a combination block from Brinkman and Herman, and a service ace from Elstner for a 24-19 advantage. A kill by Jaeke evened the match two points later.

UW-Oshkosh took an 8-7 lead in the fifth set on a ball-handling error by the Big Blue. The Titans rattled off three straight points on a pair of Millikin University errors and a kill by Elstner for a 12-8 advantage. Another kill by Elstner and a combination block by Brinkman and Jaeke set up match-point at 14-9, and a Big Blue attack error fell out of bounds to complete the Titan win.

Herman and Jaeke added 10 kills apiece for the Titans while Thiel had 40 assists and 13 digs. Hodges paced UW-Oshkosh with a career-best 17 digs, and Brinkman contributed seven kills and a match-high six blocks.

Millikin University's Erin Syversen led all players with 17 kills to go along with 11 digs. Cortney Bohn and Alora Goodey chipped in with nine kills apiece for the Big Blue, who also received 26 assists from Emily Mihalkanin, 14 assists from Rose Syversen and 11 digs from both Cassidy Kingery and Emily Seegmiller.

UW-Oshkosh concludes its Pizza Hut Classic schedule by playing The College of St. Scholastica (Minn.) and Concordia University Wisconsin on Saturday (Sept. 10) in Kolf Sports Center.

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