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MCDONALD'S GAME OF THE WEEK (SWC volleyball): Platteville 3, Richland Center 0
Hillmen claim fifth straight SWC outright with 3–0 sweep of Richland Center
Platteville VB champs
(From left) Izzy Condiff (25), Catherine Tashner (5), Hailey Weigel (13) and Natalie Busch (3) celebrate the final point of Platteville’s SWC-title clinching sweep of Richland Center Thursday night at PHS.

SWC VOLLEYBALL: Platteville 3, Richland Center 0

By Jason Nihles, The Platteville Journal

PLATTEVILLE — Make that five straight for the Platteville volleyball team.

The Hillmen completed their season-long comeback from dropping its Southwest Wisconsin Conference opener at Dodgeville Sept. 2 by winning a pair of league matches last week to claim a fifth straight conference title. 

Platteville (21–14, 9–1 SWC) swept Lancaster 25–19, 25–16, 25–11 last Tuesday on the Flying Arrows’ Breast Cancer Awareness Pink Night to clinch at least a share of this year’s title, then swept second-place Richland Center 25–16, 25–22, 25–18 on its own Pink Night Thursday to claim the outright crown.

“It’s great to win the conference outright,” said Berntgen. “I felt like we went into the match with a lot of energy which helped to keep the momentum on our side.”

The Hillmen made quick work of the visiting Hornets (21–16, 7–3) after dropping the two first two sets before rallying for a 3–2 victory in the previous meeting between the two schools two weeks earlier. 

“We knew from playing Richland Center there that we wanted to get up right away,” added Berntgen. “It is always hard to come back after being down two and I think when we did that at Center it was a turning point for us. We are definitely playing our best volleyball right now and it is perfect timing going into the playoffs.”

Junior middle hitter Hailey Weigel set the tone for Platteville with one of her best matches of the season, finishing with a team-high 11 kills, three blocks and three aces. 

“Hailey Weigel is an outstanding athlete,” said Berntgen. “ She played really well Thursday night. She saw the court and played smart which is something we have really been focusing on in practice. What she lacks in height she makes up for in her vertical. She is a hard worker which makes her a solid all around player for us.”

Nies added eight kills and a team-high 21 digs, while Templery (6 kills, 3 blocks), senior Catherine Tashner (6 kills, 19 digs, 2 blocks) and Fields (31 assists, 3 aces) all played key roles in the victory. 

“All of our hitters played well at the net Thursday night and Emily did a nice job at mixing up sets for the hitters,” said Berntgen. “We need to continue doing this in the tournament. Our goals going into regionals are simply take one match at a time.  We are going to work hard at practice and be ready to play Tuesday.”

The Hillmen earned the 3 seed in their 14-team half sectional and opened the WIAA Division 2 playoffs with a regional quarterfinal against 14 seed Gale–Ettrick–Trempealeau in a regional quarterfinal.

With a win, Platteville will host either 6-seed River Valley or 11-seed Sparta in a D2 regional semifinal Thursday night. The regional finals will be played Saturday. Mauston is the 2 seed on Platteville’s side of the half sectional bracket.

Coach Berntgen’s Hillmen closed out the regular season by going 1–3 at the five-team Randolph round robin tournament. 

Platteville defeated Lake Mills 25–19, 25–14, but used mostly reserves in losses to De Forest, Waterloo and the host Rockets.

“I wanted to give the girls some experience and playing time and stay healthy coming into this week,” said Berntgen. 

Senior setter Emily Fields posted team-high with 24 assists, 12 digs and three aces to lead the Hillmen past the host Flying Arrows (19–18, 1–9 SWC) Tuesday night, while junior Camryn Nies had a team-high eight kills to lead Platteville’s balanced offensive attack.

Platteville 3,  Richland Center 0
(from Thursday Oct. 14 @ Platteville)
Richland Center..16 22  18
Platteville............25 25  25
Platteville stat leaders 
Kills: Hailey Weigel 11, Camryn Nies 8, Ellie Temperly 6, Catherine Tashner 6, Brooke Von Glahn 5. Blocks: Hailey Weigel 3, Temperly 3, Tashner 2, Von Glahn 2. Assists: Fields 31. Aces: Weigel 3, Fields 3. Digs: Nies 21, Tashner 19, Izzy Condiff 13, Natalie Busch 11, Fields 9.