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Ace, ace baby
Fourth-ranked Hillmen serve up dominating SWC victory over visiting Prairie du Chien
Junior Alyana Digman fires a kill past a pair of Prairie du Chien blockers during Platteville's SWC sweep last Thursday night at Platteville Middle School. Digman finished with six kills and three aces in the match.

PLATTEVILLE — The Platteville volleyball team might not be challenged in Southwest Wisconsin Conference play this year.

They certainly weren’t last week.

The Hillmen, ranked fourth in Division 2, improved to 20–1 on the season and 4–0 in conference play with a pair of dominating victories over Richland Center and Prairie du Chien last week.

Last Tuesday, Platteville overcame a slow start in the opening set and put the hammer down to leave Richland Center High School with a 27–25, 25–16, 25-13 sweep of the Hornets (9–9, 1–2 SWC).

Thursday they returned home — sort of —  and served up a season-high 17 aces and cruised to a 25–5, 25–11, 25–14 sweep of visiting Prairie du Chien, that took less than an hour.

The Hillmen were playing their third straight home match at Platteville Middle School while the main gym floor at the high school is repaired after a water leak late in the summer.

"It's not quite the same as 'our' gym but we are making the most of it and hopefully we are back at the high school soon," said Platteville head coach Danielle Duerst. 

Thursday’s match was also delayed by roughly 20 minutes when the gym had to be cleared during the varsity reserve match due to potential threatening weather in the Platteville area.

No delay could stop the Hillmen Thursday night.

Senior middle hitter Alayna Digman served seven straight points, including a pair of aces, and Platteville was off and running to an easy win.

The Hillmen extended the lead to 17–4 before putting the set way with a 8–1 run. Senior libero M.J. Stephens had a pair of aces in the set and finished the night with a team-high five. She also had a team-high 15 digs.

Digman served the first four points in the second set as Platteville again jumped out to a large lead again at 17–4. 

Prairie du Chien (4–8, 0–3) made a run and forced a Hillmen timeout at 19–11, but Platteville quickly got back on track and closed out a nine-point win.

Senior middle hitter Izzy Carroll finished with a team-high seven kills, four aces and 11 digs.

Senior outside hitters Becca Hoyer, Josie Nies and Allie Cooley each finished with four kills as sophomore setter Emily Fields spread the hitting opportunities against the Blackhawks, finishing with 24 assists. 

Last Tuesday at Richland Center, Carroll and Digman each floored 10 kills to lead the balanced attack and combined for five blocks in the victory. Nies and Hoyer added eight and seven kills respectively. Hoyer also had 18 digs and two blocks.

Obviously happy to be 20–1, Platteville coach Duerst knows her team still has plenty of work to do to reach its potential.

“We have our good times and our bad,” said Duerst. “We need to play to our potential every game no matter who is on the other side of the court. We are taking it one game at a time.

"The last few conference games we have played better as a team.  When my setter/hitter connection is there and we play solid defense we look very good. We need to keep pushing ourselves and come to practice and games ready to go!  We will keep working hard and play one game at a time."

The Hillmen traveled to Dodgeville (12–3, 3–1) Tuesday night and will return to action Tuesday at second-place River Valley (13–8, 3–1). With a pair of victories Platteville would hold a nearly insurmountable two-game lead with four matches remaining in its quest for a third straight SWC title.

Platteville 3, Richland Center 0
(from Tuesday, Sept. 10 @ Platteville M.S.)
Platteville  27 25 25
Richland Center 25 16  13
Platteville stat leaders 
Kills: Alayna Digman 10, Izzy Carroll 10, Josie Nies 8, Becca Hoyer 7. Blocks: Digman 3, Carroll 2, Hoyer 2. Assists: Emily Fields 22. Aces: Carroll 2. Digs: Hoyer 18, Nies 14, Carroll 13, MJ Stephens 13.

Platteville 3,  Prairie du Chien 0
(from Thursday, Sept. 12 @ Platteville M.S.)
Prairie du Chien 5 11  14
Platteville  25 25 25
Platteville stat leaders 
Kills: Izzy Carroll 7, Alayna Digman 6, Becca Hoyer 4, Josie Nies 4, Allie Cooley 4. Blocks: Cooley 3, Digman 2. Assists: Emily Fields 24. Aces: MJ Stephens 5, Carroll 4, Digman 3, Fields 2, Nies 2. Digs: Stephens 15, Carroll 11, Hoyer 10.