LANCASTER - They had them right where they wanted them, but in the end, visiting River Valley escaped Lancaster with the outright Southwest Wisconsin Conference volleyball title last Thursday night.
Coach Tiffany Michalkiewicz and her Flying Arrows entered last Thursday’s contest with a league record of 5-2, looking to hand River Valley (8-1) it’s second conference loss of the season and force them to share this year’s conference crown.
Both teams put out exception efforts, but in the end, the visiting Blackhawks escaped with a 3-2 victory.
“It is a tough pill to swallow being that close to winning our third straight conference championship,” said coach Michalkiewicz.
In the first set of last Thursday’s match, Lancaster held a lead of 18-14 late in the game, but River Valley stormed back to tie it at 22-22.
The Arrows eventually gained a 24-23 advantage, but the Blackhawks scored three straight points to collect a 26-24 win.
In the second set, River Valley led for the majority of the game, taking a 19-14 advantage late in the set.
The Arrows managed to tie it up at 19-19, and took their first lead of 22-21, before claiming a 25-23 victory.
The third set was all Lancaster, who jumped out to an 8-1 lead early in the game before claiming a 25-11 win and a 2-1 advantage.
Fighting for the conference title, River Valley jumped out to an early 7-3 lead in the fourth set, and led right up to the end for a 25-18 victory.
In the fifth-and-final set, Valley quickly turned a 2-2 tie into an 8-4 lead, then cruised the rest of the way for a 15-7 victory to clinch the outright conference crown.
Senior outside hitter Courtney Mumm led her team with 24 kills and 16 digs Thursday night, while senior setter Haley Hentrich dished out 47 total assists in the loss.
Jena Vesperman contributed with three blocks, and Paige Duncan added three ace serves.
The Flying Arrows will wrap up the regular season this Thursday night when they host Prairie du Chien (0-8).
They will then gear up for the WIAA regional tournament, which starts Tuesday, Oct. 16.
“The hard work in and out of the season, the weekend tournaments, and the tough conference schedule, are all used to prepare us for success in the postseason,” said coach Michalkiewicz. “We learned a lot from the River Valley match and will grow from it. In the end it will make us a better team in our preparation for the postseason.”
Last Tuesday night the Flying Arrows swept visiting Dodgeville, 25-11, 25-13 and 25-14.
Mumm led the team with 10 kills, while Vesperman added nine.
Hentrich distributed 25 total assists, as Stephanie Tranel came up with 16 digs and Katrina Polkinghorn six blocks.
Lancaster 3, Dodgeville 0
(from Tuesday, Oct. 2)
Dodgeville 11 13 14
Lancaster 25 25 25
Kills - Courtney Mumm 10, Jena Vesperman 9. Digs - Stephanie Tranel 16. Aces - Jena Hore 3, Paige Duncan 3, Courtney Mumm 3. Assists - Haley Hentrich 25. Blocks - Katrina Polkinghorn 6.
River Valley 3, Lancaster 2
(from Thursday, Oct. 4)
River Valley 26 23 11 25 15
Lancaster 24 25 25 18 7
Kills - Courtney Mumm 24. Digs - Courtney Mumm 16. Aces - Paige Duncan 3. Assists - Haley Hentrich 47. Blocks - Jena Vesperman 3.