SPRING GREEN — The moment was perfectly appropriate.
The only two ranked teams in the WIAA Division 2 Whitewater Sectional — the co-champions of the Southwest Wisconsin Conference, having lost only to each other in the SWC season — met in the River Valley Regional final for the second consecutive year Saturday night.
For the second consecutive year, the regional final between second-seed Platteville and number-one-seed River Valley went to a fifth set. With Platteville leading 14–12, Ashley Budden, one of the Hillmen’s two seniors, rotated to serve.
After the ball landed on the Blackhawks’ side of the court, the Platteville bench and fans exploded in celebration at the Hillmen’s 15–25, 25–21, 25–21, 20–25, 15–12 regional win.
“It was definitely a very surreal feeling,” said Platteville head coach Yvette Updike. “The key was to go to as many people as possible to make their defensive shift. Morgan [Stecklein] led the team in kills but we really had nice hits from Maddie Carroll, Allison Woodworth, and Marissa Marino, as well. Morgan really got on fire in game 5.
“Though our offense was extremely valuable to us [Saturday] night, our defense was the major factor in the win. The blocking of Allison really shifted the momentum from River Valley to us in crucial moments.”
Set one went back and forth until the Blackhawks’ Taylor Genthe served up eight straight points to give River Valley a 23–14 lead on the way to their 25–15 win.
River Valley got a 13–11 lead in the second set and looked to be in control, but Platteville rallied to take a one-point lead at 15–14, and Rachel Emendorfer’s serving extended the lead to 20–16 and the Hillmen held on to even the match at one set apiece.
Platteville built a 20–15 lead in set three, after a kill by junior Claire Tashner, two blocks by Woodworth, and a block and a kill by Carroll. River Valley got to within 21–20, but two Stecklein kills gave Platteville another 25–21 win and a two-sets-to-one lead.
The Hillmen got off to an 11–5 lead in set four, but the Blackhawks rallied for a 25–20 win, forcing a fifth set.
The decisive fifth set looked bleak for Platteville as River Valley jumped out to an early 7–3 lead in the race to 15. But like they have all year, Platteville battled back behind the serving of senior Briette Updike and kills by Budden and Marino to cut the lead to 7–6.
Tashner then came on to serve, and with a Woodworth block and three consecutive Stecklein kills, the Hillmen took an 11–9 lead. Valley tied the set at 11, but another Stecklein kill gave the Hillmen a 12–11 lead. A Genthe block tied the set at 12, but the Hillmen scored the final three points to win the regional title.
Stecklein finished the match with a team-high 17 kills, while Carroll chipped in nine. Woodworth added 11 key blocks and six kills.
Platteville (38–5, 9–1 SWC) will play Wisconsin Dells (26–12, 10–0 South Central Conference) in a Whitewater Sectional semifinal at Sauk Prairie High School Thursday at 7 p.m. The Chiefs also knocked off their regional’s number-one seed, Sauk Prairie, 3–2 Saturday. The winner will play Lakeside Lutheran (30–6, 10–0 Capitol North) or Edgerton (14–14, 4–6 Rock Valley North) in the sectional final Saturday at 7 p.m.
Platteville defeated Wisconsin Dells 20–25, 25–12, 15–8 in a three-set match en route to winning the Wisconsin Dells Invitational on Sept. 13.
“They have a very good team with some great height and offensive threats,” said Updike.
Hillmen open regional play with sweep of Mount Horeb
Platteville’s regional week began with a 25–19, 25–12, 25–12 regional quarterfinal win over seventh-seed Mount Horeb last Tuesday.
Platteville’s other senior, libero Briette Updike, served up the last three points off the first set to fight off the Vikings, 25–19. Updike then opened the second set with a 5–0 serving run. Budden’s serving extended the lead to 13–4 and the Hillmen cruised to an easy win.
Stecklein finished with a match-high 12 kills. Updike and Budden, as well as Rachel Emendorfer each served a pair of aces.
Platteville survives regional semifinal scare against Edgewood
Thursday’s regional semifinal against third-seed Edgewood, the Division 2 state runner-up three of the past four seasons, was considerably harder-fought, but Platteville held off the Crusaders 24–26, 28–26, 25–11, 25–16.
Edgewood got off to an 11–6 lead in set one, but Updike’s serving six straight points gave Platteville a 23–21 lead in set one.
However, Edgewood’s Rachael Roseboom served up two points to give Edgewood a 24–23 lead, then after an Allison Woodworth kill tied the match at 24–24, the Crusaders got the final two points.
Set two was a mirror image of the first, with Platteville getting a 17–11 lead after Updike served five straight points. But Edgewood tied the match at 21–21, and had set points at 24–23 and 26–25 and the opportunity to take a two games to none lead. However, a Morgan Stecklein kill gave Platteville a 27–26 lead and a Woodworth block even the match at one set apiece.
Platteville made short work of Edgewood in the last two sets. Emendorfer’s serving gave the Hillmen a 7–3 lead, which grew to 11–4 with Updike serving. Emendorfer served up the final five points of set three, including back-to-back aces to end it.
Edgewood got off to a 9–4 lead in set four before Platteville charged back. Three kills from Stecklein and the serving of Claire Tashner serving cut the deficit to 9–8, and a Budden kill gave the Hillmen a 11–10 lead. Platteville then went on 6–1 run with Emendorfer at the service line to push the lead to 18–13. The lead swelled to 22–14 on Updike’s serve, and Edgewood committed back-to-back hitting errors for Platteville’s final points.
“Edgewood gave us a way different look from when we played them earlier in the season at their invitational,” said Updike. “ They set up a really solid block that threw our offense off a bit.”
WIAA Division 2 Regional Quarterfinal
Platteville 3, Mount Horeb 0
(from Tuesday, Oct. 21 @ Platteville)
#7 Mount Horeb 19 12 12
#2 Platteville 25 25 25
Platteville stat leaders
Kills: Morgan Stecklein 12, Claire Tashner 5, Ashley Budden 4, Maddie Carroll 3. Blocks: Allison Woodworth 3, Stecklein 3. Assists: Jenna Philips 12, Rachel Emendorfer 10. Aces: Ashley Budden 2, Rachel Emendorfer 2, Briette Updike 2. Digs: Updike 16.
WIAA Division 2 Regional Semifinal
Platteville 3, Edgewood 1
(from Thursday, Oct. 23 @ Platteville)
#3 Edgewood 26 26 11 16
#2 Platteville 24 28 25 25
Platteville stat leaders
Kills: Morgan Stecklein 12, Claire Tashner 9, Faye Bailie 6, Maddie Carroll 6. Blocks: Bailie 5, Allison Woodworth 5, Tashner 3. Assists: Jenna Philips 18, Rachel Emendorfer 14. Aces: Emendorfer 4, Briette Updike 1. Digs: Updike 12.
WIAA Division 2 Regional Final
Platteville 3, River Valley 2
(from Saturday, Oct. 25 @ Spring Green)
#2 Platteville 15 25 25 20 15
#1 River Valley 25 21 21 25 12
Platteville stat leaders
Kills: Morgan Stecklein 17, Maddie Carroll 9, Allison Woodworth 6. Blocks: Woodworth 11, Ashley Budden 3, Faye Bailie 3, Stecklein 3. Assists: Rachel Emendorfer 23, Jenna Philips 16. Aces: Phillips 3, Emendorfer 2. Digs: Briette Updike 23.