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Pioneers crowned champs of own tourney
Freshman Haley Jansen jump serves - photo by photo by Tyler Ensrude / UW-Platteville

PLATTEVILLE - The No. 19 UW-Platteville volleyball team extended its home winning streak to 12 matches with wins over Monmouth (25-23,2 5-14, 25-22) and Central (27-29, 25-19, 25-10, 25-17) en route to tournament title honors at the UW-Platteville Invitational inside Williams Fieldhouse on Saturday.

The Pioneers’ (5-3) dominated the play at the net with a .196 to .055 advantage in hitting percentage and with seven blocks against Monmouth to start the day. Samantha Rampart and Briana Kaiser each led the attack with 10 kills. Ali Sikic and Allee Yundt set up the hitting efforts with 22 and 12 assists, respectively. Brooke Nichols and Stephanie Kirchner had 13 and 10 digs, respectively; plus, Andrea Larsen had three service aces for the Pioneers.

Monmouth was led by Chelsey WIddop, who had nine kills, to lead the Fighting Scots, who were victimized by 22 hitting errors and seven reception errors.

After a tightly contested first set that saw Monmouth rally to tie the set at 23, the Pioneers’ Lee Ann Mizgalski and Stephanie Kirchner each had a kill to close out the first set in favor of UW-Platteville. 

The Pioneers jumped out to a 12-5 lead in the second set, taking advantage of six attack errors by Monmouth. In addition, UW-Platteville out-hit Monmouth by a .194 to a -.080 hitting margin.

In the decisive third set, the Pioneers and Fighting Scots went back and forth until Brooke Nichols served four consecutive points to put UW-Platteville ahead 20-18. Following only the third tie of the set at 20, Andrea Larsen recorded a pair of service aces to build a 23-20 lead for the Pioneers. Kirchner and Rampart closed out the match with kills for the Pioneer victory.

In the nightcap against Central, the Pioneers bounced back from dropping the first set to hit .290 over the next three sets to defeat the Dutch.

In the win over Central, four Pioneers had double-digit kills including Samantha Rampart and Stephanie Kirchner, who paced the attack with 14 kills each. Setting the attack for the Pioneers was Ali Sikic, who had 51 assists and 12 digs. Again, the UW-Platteville frontline controlled the match as Briana Kaiser had six block assists and 12 kills, Rampart and Kirchner each had four block assists. Brooke Nichols also added 21 digs for the Pioneers.

After dropping the first set, 27-29, the Pioneers jumped out to a 9-3 lead in the second set. The Dutch would get as close as three, 22-19, but Kaiser, Kirchner and Sikic closed out the set with kills to even the match at a set each.

In the third set, UW-Platteville raced out to a 12-3 lead and cruised to a 25-10 victory. During the set, Kirchner had four kills and Emily Kaiser added three to lead the Pioneers. In the set, UW-Platteville out hit Central in convincing fashion by a .440 to -.030 margin.

In the fourth set, the Pioneers went on an 8-1 run to take a 17-10 lead. During the run, Rampart and Kirchner each had two kills to lead the attack. Briana Kaiser and Kirchner each had four more kills to close out the match. In the set, the Pioneers out hit Central by a .256 to .167 margin to seal the win and the UW-Platteville Invitational title.

Pioneers open tourney with two wins

Facing a two-set deficit in the first match of the day, the UW-Platteville volleyball team rallied to win the next three sets to defeat Loras (22-25, 21-25, 25-15, 25-21, 15-12) and three more sets in a straight-set win (25-23, 25-17, 27-25) over Millikin to conclude the first day of action at the UW-Platteville Invitational.

The Pioneers (3-3) got back on track in the third set when they hit at a .419 clip with 17 kills. Emily Kaiser, Stephanie Kirchner and LeeAnn Mizgalski, who did not participate in the first two sets, each had four kills to lead the attack. Ali Sikic added 15 assists and Brooke Nichols and Andrea Larsen each added three digs for UW-Platteville.

In the fourth set, the two teams were tied four times until back-to-back kills by Kirchner and Mizgalski put the Pioneers in front by a 23-21 margin. A Duhawk ball handling error and punishing kill by Briana Kaiser closed out the set to tie the match at two sets apiece.

In the fifth set, the first time that UW-Platteville had played in a five-set match in 2011, the Pioneers found themselves behind early by a 10-4 margin. After veteran head coach Deb Schulman called her second and final timeout of the set, the Pioneers stepped up to the challenge by going on 7-1 run to tie the decisive set at 11. After a point by Loras, UW-Platteville scored the final four points of the set with a decisive service ace by Ali Sikic to close out the victory.

In the final match of the night, the Pioneers outhit Millikin by a .330 to .158 margin. Pioneers’ Briana Kaiser and LeeAnn Mizgalski each had 14 and 11 kills, respectively. Ali Sikic added 36 assists and two service aces; Brooke Nichols and Stephanie Kirchner contributed 14 and 11 digs, respectively to the win.

In the first set, the two teams battled back and forth as they were tied on seven occasions. After a Pioneer timeout and facing a 23-22 deficit, the Pioneers capitalized on an attack error by the Big Blue, Briana Kaiser and Ali Sikic teamed up on a block and Briana Kaiser ended the set with her fifth kill of the set.

The second set remained close until a 13-3 spurt midway through the set put the Pioneers ahead by a 22-12 margin. Also, in the second set, the Pioneers had 15 kills and just one hitting error en route to hitting at a .483 clip.

With a two-set lead, the Pioneers closed out the match with a 27-25 win in the third set. The Pioneers did not hold a lead until 25-24 when Briana Kaiser recorded her fifth kill of the set. The Big Blue came back to tie it at 25 but Kaiser added her sixth kill on an Ali Sikic assist and the UW-Platteville tandem of Stephanie Kirchner and Samantha Rampart partnered up on a block to close out the contest.

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