UW-Oshkosh concluded its season with a 3-2 loss to Bluffton University (Ohio) in the opening round of the NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball Championship on Thursday (Nov. 10) in Whitewater.
The Beavers, seeded seventh at the eight-team Whitewater Regional, outlasted the second-seeded Titans in set scores of 25-14, 20-25, 25-21, 25-27, 15-11.
UW-Oshkosh (28-8), which won a share of its second straight WIAC title, was making its 17th NCAA postseason appearance. The Titans received one of 21 at-large berths into this year's 64-team Division III field.
Bluffton University (24-8), making its fourth consecutive and eighth overall NCAA appearance, won its first NCAA tournament match. The Beavers advance to play third-seeded Washington University-St. Louis (Mo.) (23-10) on Friday (Nov. 11).
UW-Oshkosh lost a five-set match for the first time this season (7-1 record) while Bluffton has won three of its four five-set contests this year.
The Titans held advantages in kills (62-51), digs (98-92) and blocks (15-10), but UW-Oshkosh committed 60 total errors, including 38 on the attack. UW-Oshkosh hit just -.053 in Set 1, .020 in Set 3 and .100 in Set 5.
The Beavers narrowly outhit UW-Oshkosh, .128 to .118, and had a 9-3 advantage in service aces. Bluffton University committed just 37 total errors.
Erin Weisgarber led the Beavers with 35 assists, 23 digs and four blocks to go along with eight kills on .381 hitting.
Bethany Martini has a team-leading 16 kills for Bluffton University, which also received 15 kills and four service aces from MacKenzie McFarlin, and 22 digs from Sydney Mohler.
UW-Oshkosh scored the first two points of the match, but Bluffton University answered with five consecutive points for a 5-2 edge and maintained a lead for the remainder of the frame. The Beavers extended their cushion to 17-9 on a kill by Lauren Weisgarber.
The Titans never trailed in the second set after grabbing 3-2 lead on a combination block by Samantha Jaeke and Carly Lemke. A solo block by Lemke gave UW-Oshkosh a 13-7 advantage, and a kill by Jaeke upped the Titan lead to 19-14. Clinging to a 20-18 advantage, the Titans closed out the set with five of the next seven points, including a kill by Tina Elstner on set-point.
The Beavers took control of the third set by tallying seven straight points for a 12-7 lead. UW-Oshkosh committed five errors during the decisive seven-point run. The Titans closed to within 19-16, but a pair of UW-Oshkosh errors and a kill by Lauren Weisgarber made the score 22-16.
UW-Oshkosh raced out to a 13-6 advantage in the fourth set before five consecutive Titan errors allowed Bluffton University to pull within 17-16. The Beavers had match-point at 24-23 on a kill by Lauren Weisgarber, but a kill by UW-Oshkosh's Nerissa Vogt knotted the score at 24 and a service ace by Vogt gave the Titans a 25-24 edge. The teams then traded kills until Titan Shannon Herman ended the frame with a termination.
Set 5 was tied for the 10th and final time at 10-10 before Bluffton University scored four points in a row for a 14-10 lead. The Beavers' four-point spurt included one kill and three Titan errors. A kill by McFarlin ended the match two points later.
Lemke paced UW-Oshkosh with 16 kills and eight blocks.
Vogt and Jaeke added 15 and 10 kills, respectively, and chipped in five blocks apiece.
The UW-Oshkosh senior class of Brooke Brinkman, Thiel, Trochinski and Vogt helped the program to 107 wins and two NCAA postseason appearances.