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Bluejays, Muskies Spoil Titans' Home Debut

Titan Renee Rush had a career-high 15 kills against  Lakeland University.
Titan Renee Rush had a career-high 15 kills against Lakeland University.

Renee Rush's team-leading 28 total kills were not enough as the UW-Oshkosh women's volleyball team suffered a pair of setbacks at its home-opening Pizza Hut Classic on Friday (Sept. 7) in Kolf Sports Center.

UW-Oshkosh (4-4) lost, 3-2, to Elmhurst College (Ill.) in set scores of 25-23, 22-25, 21-25, 25-22, 15-11 and 3-1 to Lakeland University in scores of 25-23, 25-18, 21-25, 25-21.

Rush matched her previous career high with 13 kills against Elmhurst College before establishing a new career best with 15 against Lakeland University. She added 10 digs in the second contest to notch her first career double-double.

UW-Oshkosh's Rachel Gardner compiled 49 digs in the two matches, including a season-high 30 against Lakeland University. Gardner has led the Titans in digs in each of their eight matches this season.

Five Titans accumulated double-digit kill totals on the day, including Carly Lemke with 17, Taylor Allen with 15, Shelby Coron with 14 and McKenna Scott with 11. Allen paced UW-Oshkosh with six total blocks during the two matches while Katie Hodges and Becky Brezen chipped in 25 and 20 digs, respectively.

Emma Kiekhofer led UW-Oshkosh with 58 assists on Friday. Becca Doughty had 16 assists and 12 digs in the nightcap for her first double-double of the season and fourth in her Titan career.

In the five-set loss to Elmhurst College, the Titans owned advantages in hitting percentage (.155 to .107) and assists (49-47), but the Bluejays held edges in kills (51-50), service aces (12-3), digs (87-80) and blocks (7-4). UW-Oshkosh went into the contest leading the WIAC with a .126 opponent hitting percentage and 2.19 blocks per set.

Elmhurst College (2-4) led by four points on four occasions during the opening set, including at 18-14 following a kill by Kayla Mast. The Titans knotted the score at 20 on a combination block from Allen and Kendall Enyart and reclaimed a 23-22 lead with a kill by Allen. However, the Bluejays closed out the frame with the final three points.

UW-Oshkosh jumped out to a 15-8 lead in the second set on the strength of six kills and nine Bluejay errors. Elmhurst College forged a tie at 22 on back-to-back kills before Rush collected a kill for a 24-22 advantage and a Bluejay error ended the set on the ensuing point.

The Titans trailed for just two points during the third set in which they outhit Elmhurst College, .206 to .026. Three consecutive Bluejay attack errors allowed UW-Oshkosh to take a 20-16 lead, and the Titans led by at least three points the rest of the set that culminated on an Elmhurst College service error.

Elmhurst College took its first and only lead of the fourth frame at 16-15 on a kill from Taylor Zurliene. The Titans pulled within 23-22 on a Bluejay attack error, but a Titan error and a kill from Elmhurst College's Kaye Lesure sent the match to a fifth set.

The Bluejays never trailed in the final frame, racing out to a 7-3 advantage and extending their lead to 12-7. UW-Oshkosh scored four consecutive points to close within 12-11 after two kills from Rush and one apiece from Allen and Lemke. But Elmhurst College answered with the final three points on a kill by Zurliene and a pair of terminations from Bailey Brouwer.

Brouwer and Ellie Burzlaff led Elmhurst College with 11 kills apiece. Brouwer also paced all players with four service aces.

Zurliene had a match-high 20 digs for the Bluejays, who received 21 assists from Kelly Townsend, and 18 assists and 10 digs from Katie Davis.

Lemke and Scott both had nine kills for the Titans while Allen and Coron added eight apiece. Lemke had a team-leading two service aces.

Kiekhofer amassed a season-best 41 assists and nine digs while directing the UW-Oshkosh offense. Brezen collected a season-high 12 digs for the Titans.

During the setback to Lakeland University, the Titans had advantages in kills (48-43), assists (47-41) and blocks (7-5), but the Muskies produced nine service aces and narrowly outhit UW-Oshkosh, .112 to .104. Both teams recorded 96 digs.

Shannon Bishop and Shelby Welsh both had 12 kills to lead the Muskies while Neenah Primas dished out a match-high 36 assists. Welsh and Bishop recorded double-doubles with 28 and 22 digs, respectively.

Lemke registered down eight kills and a team-best four blocks for the Titans, who also received seven terminations from Allen and six apiece from Coron and Enyart. Kiekhofer had a team-leading 17 assists while sharing setting duties with Doughty. Hodges chipped in a season-high 14 digs for UW-Oshkosh.

Lakeland University (5-1) tallied four straight points to extend its lead to 11-6 in the first set. The Titans rallied to tie the score at 15 on a combination block from Enyart and Rush before reclaiming a 16-15 edge on a Muskie error. A double block from Allen and Lemke knotted the frame at 21, but Lakeland University reached set-point at 24-21 following a trio of errors. The Titans staved off two set-points before an error capped the frame.

The Muskies trailed on just the opening point of the second set en route to building leads of 10-5 and 21-13 as Lakeland College collected 14 kills during the frame.

UW-Oshkosh responded with 15 kills during the third set as it erased an 8-4 deficit with a 9-1 run that featured kills from Allen, Kiekhofer and Rush. Clinging to a 13-12 advantage, the Titans scored seven of the next nine points, including two on kills from Rush, for a 20-14 lead. The Muskies pulled within 21-19, but a pair of kills by Allen extended the UW-Oshkosh advantage to 23-19, and a Lakeland University error concluded the set four points later.

Lakeland University used a six-point run to build a 16-9 lead in the fourth set, but the Titans responded with nine of the next 10 points to retake an 18-17 advantage. Tied at 19, the Muskies went on a four-point run for a 23-19 lead and reached match-point at 24-20. Abby Baumgartner secured then Muskies' victory with a kill two points later.

Heading into Friday, Elmhurst College and UW-Oshkosh had split their previous 10 matchups since 2008. Lakeland University was victorious over the Titans for the first time in the 24 meetings since the series began in 1989.

UW-Oshkosh closes out the Pizza Hut Classic with a pair of matches Saturday (Sept. 8), when the Titans host Martin Luther College (Minn.) and University of Chicago (Ill.).