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Titans Secure Share Of WIAC Title

Titans Secure Share Of WIAC Title

Carly Lemke had a career-high 18 kills on 32 attempts as UW-Oshkosh earned a share of its second straight and 13th overall WIAC women's volleyball title with a 3-1 victory over UW-Stout on Saturday (Oct. 29) in Menomonie.

The Titans defeated the Blue Devils in set scores of 22-25, 25-20, 25-20, 25-15.

UW-Oshkosh (27-6, 5-2 WIAC), ranked 23rd in the NCAA Division III by the American Volleyball Coaches Association, concluded the regular season in a three-way tie atop the league standings with 10th-ranked UW-La Crosse (21-4, 5-2) and 14th-ranked UW-Whitewater (24-6, 5-2). Last season, UW-La Crosse and UW-Oshkosh shared the top spot in the league with 6-1 records.

Due to head-to-head tiebreakers, UW-Whitewater will be the No. 1 seed for next week's WIAC Championship while UW-La Crosse will be seeded second and UW-Oshkosh third. UW-Whitewater defeated both UW-La Crosse and UW-Oshkosh by 3-0 scores this season, and UW-La Crosse downed UW-Oshkosh, 3-1.

UW-Oshkosh will host sixth-seeded UW-Stout (15-13, 3-4 WIAC) in the first round of the WIAC Championship on Tuesday (Nov. 1) in Kolf Sports Center. Fourth-seeded UW-Eau Claire (23-9, 4-3) will host fifth-seeded and 17th-ranked UW-Stevens Point (26-6, 4-3) in Tuesday's other first-round matchup.

UW-Whitewater and UW-La Crosse both open WIAC tournament play in the semifinals on Thursday (Nov. 3). UW-Whitewater will host the winner of UW-Eau Claire and UW-Stevens Point while the victor of UW-Oshkosh and UW-Stout will travel to UW-La Crosse.

The semifinal winners will meet next Saturday (Nov. 5) for the league's automatic berth into the 64-team NCAA Division III Championship.

Lemke, who established a previous career best of 12 kills earlier this season, had just two attack errors and hit .500 with five blocks in the victory over UW-Stout. Samantha Jaeke added 15 kills, seven digs, five blocks and four assists for the Titans.

UW-Oshkosh's Nerissa Vogt notched her third career double-double with 10 kills and 11 blocks while Tina Elstner contributed eight kills, 15 digs and four blocks, and Shannon Herman chipped in seven kills.

UW-Oshkosh setter Lexi Thiel collected 50 assists, 13 digs and three blocks for her 33rd career double-double. Rachel Gardner and Brianna Venturini paced the Titans' back row with 19 and 12 digs, respectively.

The Titans held advantages in kills (59-51), hitting percentage (.247 to .140), digs (83-72) and blocks (17-8). UW-Oshkosh, which held the Blue Devils to -.040 hitting in the fourth set, entered the match leading the country with 305 blocks.

UW-Stout scored the first four points of the match and held a 14-9 lead until UW-Oshkosh tallied seven of the next eight points to take its first lead at 16-15. The Titan run featured six kills, including two apiece by Herman and Lemke. A kill by Jaeke pulled UW-Oshkosh to within 22-21, but UW-Stout scored three of the last four points of the frame, including a kill by Kennedy Strain on the second set-point.

The Blue Devils raced out to an 11-6 lead in the second set, but the Titans evened the score at 11 on four kills and one UW-Stout error. Trailing 18-17, UW-Oshkosh scored five consecutive points to take a 22-18 lead following a service ace from Gardner and a pair of kills from Elstner. A Blue Devil error provided the Titans with set-point at 24-19, and a kill by Jaeke two points later tied the match.

Clinging to an 8-7 lead in the third set, UW-Oshkosh took control by scoring nine of the next 10 points for a 17-8 advantage. The decisive scoring run featured two kills apiece from Elstner and Vogt. UW-Stout cut its deficit to 24-20, but a kill by Jaeke gave UW-Oshkosh the set victory.

In the final set, UW-Oshkosh used three-point scoring runs to build leads of 9-5, 13-7, 16-8 and 20-11. A block by Lemke extended the Titan advantage to 23-13 and a combination block by Thiel and Vogt gave UW-Oshkosh match-point at 24-13. After UW-Stout fended off two match-points, a block by Elstner secured a share of the WIAC title for UW-Oshkosh.

UW-Stout was led by 15 kills from Olivia Jung, 13 from Ashley Pratt and 11 from Strain.

Jessica Duval registered 46 assists for the Blue Devils, and Anna Panning had a match-high 23 digs.

UW-Oshkosh also claimed WIAC championships in 1982, 1990, 1991, 1994, 1995, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2015. UW-Whitewater earned a piece of its league-leading 16th title and UW-La Crosse its 11th.