LANCASTER — In what is sure to again be a crowded race for this year’s SWC volleyball title, Platteville took the early upper hand with a five-set, come-from-behind victory over host Lancaster last Thursday night.
The Hillmen drew first blood in this year’s conference title chase with a 17–25, 25–13, 22–25, 25–23, 15–11 victory over the fellow defending SWC tri-champion Arrows.
“It is a great win to get in the conference opener at Lancaster,” said Hillmen head coach Yvette Statz. “I give credit for our comeback to our team’s perseverance and conditioning. We condition more than most teams for matches just like this one and tonight’s match showed it.”
Platteville seniors Julia Lawinger and Mackenzie Bartels were the difference for coach Statz’s team of otherwise young and inexperienced players. The Hillmen play five freshmen and two sophomores in their main rotation.
Lawinger slammed 33 blocks, even a few with her left hand, and smothered eight Lancaster attacks for blocks.
Bartels added 15 kills and eight blocks of her own during her rotations through the front line while playing opposite Lawinger.
“Julia did an outstanding job leading our team,” added Statz. “She did a great job of mixing up her play with her dominating attacks and tips, and the placement of both. She sees the court so well. She mixes it up well with using both arm swings which she has been doing for a couple of years now.”
Lancaster (0–1 SWC) jumped out to an 8–5 lead in the opening set and pulled away, thanks in most part to a seven-point run on the serve of middle hitter Katrina Polkinhorn that gave the Arrow an 18–10 lead.
Platteville pulled within five at 20–15, but a pair of kills from Paige Duncan, another from Polkinghorn and a Hillmen net violation made it 24–15. After back-to-back points by Platteville, a hitting error gave Lancaster the set.
Platteville responded after its sluggish start with a furious second set.
The Hillmen raced out to a 10–3 lead with five kills and a block from Lawinger and an ace from Briette Updike. The visitors cruised to a 12-point win in the set.
Platteville’s new-found momentum continued as the Hillmen raced out to a 9–3 third-set lead, before Lancaster regained control of the match.
Back-to-back Hillmen errors tied the match at 19–19, before a tip kill by Polkinghorn gave Lancaster its first lead since the first set.
After Platteville tied the match at 21–21, Polkinghorn slammed back-to-back kills to give Lancaster a two-point advantage.
A Bartels kill pulled Platteville within a point, but back-to-back hitting errors, the last a controversial out call on the back line, gave Lancaster a two-sets-to-one lead.
Platteville forced a fifth set with a gutty, come-from-behind, two-point win in the fourth set.
The Hillmen fell behind early and trailed by as much as five at 13–8, and never led Lawinger slammed back-to-back kills making it 21–20.
Lawinger and Bartels extending the lead to 23–21 with back-to-back kills, but Lancaster tied the match at 23–23 and had the serve.
A service error gave Platteville a one-point lead and sophomore Ashley Budden served up an ace on set-point to even the match at two games apiece.
Platteville took early control of the fifth set as Lawinger floored four kills in the first 11 points to give the Hillmen an 8–3 lead. But as soon as Lawinger went to the back row Lancaster mounted a comeback.
The Arrows tied the match at 10–10 on an ace from Courtney Mumm and appeared on the verge of seizing victory, but a lift, a Bartels block, a Bartels kill and kill from freshman Morgan Stecklein allowed the Hillmen to recapture a 14–10 lead.
After a Platteville hitting error Stecklein ended the match with a kill off Lancaster’s front line.
“We knew we had to pass well in order to execute our offense with Mackenzie in the front line,” said Statz. “We needed Mackenzie to step up and make some big plays for us and she did. “Our returning players’ [Julia, Mackenzie and Briette Updike] experience and leadership playing in big games was demonstrated. They knew the intensity level the team had to get to in order to pull off the win. Briette’s communication to the team was important.”
Updike made a team high 23 digs to lead Platteville’s defense.
Freshmen setters Jenna Phillips (33 assists) and Rachel Emendorfer (25 assists) passed out 58 assists between them. Budden added eight digs. Freshman Maddie Carroll chipped in four kills.
“This win was huge,” said Statz. “Every conference win is critical in the SWC.”
The Hillmen return to action Thursday with their home opener against Dodgeville. Saturday Platteville will participate in the Sparta Invitational.
Platteville 3, Lancaster 2
(from Thursday, Aug. 30 @ Lancaster)
Platteville 17 25 22 25 15
Lancaster 25 13 25 23 11
Platteville stat leaders
Kills: Julia Lawinger 33, Mackenzie Bartels 15, Maddie Carroll 4. Blocks: Lawinger 8, Bartels 8. Assists: Jenna Phillips 33, Rachel Emendorfer 25. Aces: Emendorfer 4, Ashley Budden 2. Digs: Briette Updike 23, Budden 8, Lawinger 7.