Nationally ranked UW-Whitewater overcame a two-set deficit on the way to securing the outright WIAC women's volleyball title with a 3-2 win over UW-Oshkosh on Wednesday (Oct. 23) in Kolf Sports Center.
The teams were tied at 20 during the third set, but UW-Whitewater claimed five of the last six points of the frame to avoid being swept by the Titans for the first time since 1994 before going on to trail for one point over the final two sets.
UW-Whitewater (21-3, 6-0 WIAC), ranked seventh in the NCAA Division III by the American Volleyball Coaches Association, defeated UW-Oshkosh in set scores of 17-25, 22-25, 25-21, 25-22, 15-8. The Warhawks, who earned the top seed at next month's WIAC Championship, clinched their league-leading 17th WIAC regular season championship and first since sharing the 2016 crown with UW-Oshkosh and UW-La Crosse.
UW-Oshkosh (19-7, 4-2 WIAC) is now tied for second in the league standings with UW-Stevens Point (21-7, 4-2) and UW-Eau Claire (14-8, 4-2) with one conference match remaining. UW-Oshkosh travels to UW-Eau Claire for the regular season finale Nov. 1.
UW-Whitewater's Rachel Butterfield led all players with 14 kills and added six blocks Wednesday.
Chloe Buescher added 12 kills and a team-leading seven blocks for the Warhawks, who also received 11 kills from Erin McNeil, and seven kills over the last three sets from Johni Bunker off the bench.
KellyAnn Sotiros had 24 assists, 15 digs and a team-high three service aces for UW-Whitewater while Morgan Jensen had a match-leading 28 digs to go along with nine assists.
UW-Whitewater concluded the match with advantages of 53-47 in kills, .109 to .101 in hitting percentage and 6-4 in service aces. UW-Oshkosh, which fell to 9-1 at home this year, held edges of 86-81 in digs and 15-12 in blocks. The Titans' 15 blocks were a season high.
The Warhawks entered the night pacing the WIAC with a .119 opponent hitting percentage while the Titans ranked first in the league with a .217 hitting percentage and 1.99 blocks per set.
Shelby Coron had a career-high 13 kills to go along with four blocks for the Titans.
Rachel Gardner and Becky Brezen registered 25 and 12 digs, respectively, for the Titans. Rebecca Doughty dished out a team-leading 21 assists while Emma Kiekhofer had 17 assists, nine digs and three service aces.
UW-Oshkosh seized control of the opening set with four points in a row for a 16-12 lead as Coron provided a pair of kills before Rachel Aasby's solo block capped the decisive run. Another Coron termination extended the Titan cushion to 20-14, and a Nottoli kill ended the set eight points later.
UW-Whitewater jumped out to a 7-3 lead in the second set and maintained a lead until a kill by Nottoli knotted the score at 14. The set was tied for the seventh and final time at 21, when back-to-back Coron kills gave UW-Oshkosh a 23-21 advantage it would not relinquish. The Warhawks then denied a pair of set-points before Coron tied her previous career high of 11 kills on the Titans' third attempt to close out the frame.
After the first two sets, UW-Oshkosh owned advantages of 30-23 in kills and .231 to .140 in hitting percentage.
UW-Whitewater began its comeback with a set-three win during which neither team hit above .100. The Titans score three straight points on a Warhawk error, a Sundholm kill and a Kiekhofer ace to forge a tie at 20, but the Warhawks scored five of the last six points of the set on three kills, one block and a Titan error.
The Warhawks then raced out to leads of 9-2 in the fourth set and 6-1 during the fifth en route to the win. UW-Oshkosh's lone lead of the final two sets was a 1-0 edge in the fifth set following a UW-Whitewater attack error.
UW-Oshkosh plays three matches this weekend at the Holiday Inn Classic in Bloomington, Ill. The Titans begin the tournament against Millikin University (Ill.) on Friday (Oct. 25).