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Titans Sweep Blue Devils To Advance In WIAC Tournament

Titans Sweep Blue Devils To Advance In WIAC Tournament

Lexi Thiel had 38 assists while operating a diverse offense as UW-Oshkosh defeated UW-Stout, 3-0, in a first round match of the WIAC Women's Volleyball Championship held Tuesday (Nov. 1) in Kolf Sports Center.

Thiel also had three kills on four errorless attempts and five digs as the Titans swept the Blue Devils in set scores of 25-17, 25-14, 25-14. UW-Oshkosh also defeated UW-Stout, 3-1, on Saturday (Oct. 29) to clinch a share of the WIAC title.

UW-Oshkosh (28-6), ranked 20th in the NCAA Division III by the American Volleyball Coaches Association, advances to play at 13th-ranked UW-La Crosse (21-4) at 7 p.m. Thursday (Nov. 3) in the league semifinals.

Eleventh-ranked UW-Whitewater (25-6) will host 17th-ranked UW-Stevens Point (27-6) in Thursday's other semifinal.

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

The Titans, who have appeared in all 29 WIAC tournaments, improved their record to 35-32 in league postseason play. The Blue Devils now own a 16-31 all-time WIAC Championship record in their 25th appearance.

UW-Oshkosh outhit UW-Stout, .323 to .090, while also holding advantages in kills (42-28), digs (51-44), blocks (6-1) and service aces (6-2). The Titans had 15 kills in both the second and third sets while hitting .314 in the second frame and .379 in the third.

The Titans scored six of the last eight points during the first set before building leads of 16-6 in the second frame and 22-12 in the third.

UW-Oshkosh's Tina Elstner led all players with 10 kills on .308 hitting while Samantha Jaeke added eight terminations, five digs, two service aces and two blocks.

Nerissa Vogt registered seven kills and five blocks for the Titans, who also received seven kills on 11 errorless attempts from Carly Lemke and a match-best 13 digs from Rachel Gardner.

UW-Oshkosh scored four consecutive points to claim a 14-10 edge in the first set following a service ace and a kill by Thiel, and the Titans held a lead for the remainder of the match. UW-Oshkosh extended its advantage to 19-14 on back-to-back kills by Jaeke and Shannon Herman before concluding the frame on consecutive kills by Vogt and Jaeke.

The Titans jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the second set and put the frame away with a string of five straight points for a 16-6 cushion. A kill by Lemke sparked the decisive scoring run that was punctuated with three consecutive terminations, including two by Elstner.

UW-Oshkosh began the third set with kills from Jaeke and Vogt and upped its advantage to 11-4 on another termination from Vogt. The Blue Devils cut their deficit to 14-10 on a Titan attack error, but UW-Oshkosh scored eight of the next 10 points for a 22-12 advantage. A kill by Brooke Brinkman provided the Titans with match-point at 24-14, and a UW-Stout attack error on the ensuing point completed the sweep.

Ashley Pratt paced UW-Stout (15-14) with nine kills while Jessica DuVal recorded 21 assists, eight digs and five kills on 10 errorless attempts. Anna Panning led the Blue Devil back row with 12 digs.