WIAC Offensive Player of the Year Stephanie Henk had 16 kills and 11 digs to lead UW-La Crosse to a 3-1 victory over UW-Oshkosh in a battle of nationally ranked women's volleyball teams during the semifinal round of the WIAC Championship on Thursday (Nov. 3) in La Crosse.
UW-La Crosse (22-4), ranked 13th in the NCAA Division III by the American Volleyball Coaches Association, defeated 20th-ranked UW-Oshkosh (28-7) in set scores of 25-17, 21-25, 26-24, 25-18. The Eagles also downed the Titans in four sets on Oct. 5 in La Crosse.
UW-La Crosse advances to the final of the league tournament on Saturday (Nov. 5) at 11th-ranked UW-Whitewater (26-6). The winner receives the WIAC's automatic berth into the 64-team Division III Championship that begins next week.
UW-Oshkosh will hear on Monday (Nov. 7) whether it receives one of 21 at-large berths into the national tournament. An online selection show will reveal the field of 64 teams beginning at 11:30 a.m. Monday.
UW-La Crosse reached its first WIAC Championship final since 2004 by owning advantages in kills (50-45), hitting percentage (.226 to .131), service aces (9-2), digs (58-52) and blocks (14-10). UW-Oshkosh entered the match leading the nation with 327.5 blocks.
Jill Entinger and Marisa Johnson added nine kills apiece for the Eagles while Ashley Entinger chipped in eight terminations.
Maddie Entinger collected 37 assists and 12 digs for UW-La Crosse, which also received nine blocks from Jessica Jablonski and 12 digs and four service aces from Paige Schmidt.
UW-La Crosse jumped out to an 11-3 lead in the first set before extending its lead to 22-11 as UW-Oshkosh hit -.032 in the opening frame.
The Eagles owned a 19-16 advantage in the second set, but UW-Oshkosh tallied seven consecutive points to reclaim a 23-19 lead. A kill by Tina Elstner ignited the Titan scoring run that included five Eagle errors. UW-La Crosse pulled within 23-21 on a service ace by Schmidt, but UW-Oshkosh closed out the set over the next two points with a kill by Nerissa Vogt and a combination block by Vogt and Samantha Jaeke.
In the third set, UW-Oshkosh erased a 16-10 deficit by scoring nine of the next 11 points for a 19-18 edge following a kill by Vogt. Consecutive kills by Elstner pulled the Titans even at 21, and kills by UW-Oshkosh's Shannon Herman and Carly Lemke knotted the score at 23 and 24, respectively. A Titan service error provided UW-La Crosse with its second set-point at 25-24, and a kill by Ashley Entinger on the ensuing point secured the frame for the Eagles.
Trailing 15-13 in the fourth set, UW-La Crosse concluded the match by scoring 12 of the final 15 points, including eight on errors by UW-Oshkosh.
Herman led the Titans with 12 kills while Elstner, Jaeke and Vogt each added nine terminations. Elstner chipped in 10 digs, and Vogt paced the team with nine blocks.
UW-Oshkosh's Lexi Thiel had 37 assists and 10 digs for her 34th career double-double.
Photo courtesy of Jim Lund