PLATTEVILLE — The Platteville volleyball team was plagued by inconsistency last year.
A year old, a year wiser, the much improved Hillmen (who finished 18–22 overall in 2017) are off to a sensational start to the 2017 season under first-year head coach Danielle Duerst.
The Hillmen scored a major victory over defending Southwest Wisconsin Conference champion Richland Center and first-team All-SWC standout Madison Rizner in Thursday’s conference opener. Platteville then went 5–0 and defeated Lodi in the championship match to win Saturday’s 16-team Richland Center Invitational.
Senior Skye Digman floored eight of her match-high 22 kills in the opening game to set the tone in Thursday’s SWC victory over the visiting Hornets.
Platteville (10–4, 1–0 SWC) went on to win games two and four to close out a 25–19, 25–23, 19–25, 25–18 victory and take a game lead on the Hornets in this year’s SWC standings.
River Valley (5–5, 1–0) will likely have something to say about this year’s SWC title race, but Platteville has positioned itself nicely with last week’s 3–1 victory.
Sophomore middle hitter Izzy Carroll added 13 kills and 23 digs, while senior setter Britney Baker played one of the best matches of her career, passing out a career-high 50 assists and tallying a match- and career-high six blocks. Digman added four blocks and senior libero Emilie Busch made 29 digs.
“We came out strong in the first two sets to get the wins,” said Duerst. “In the third set we had too many errors, serving and hitting. We need to keep our error to a minimum. After losing the third set we battled back in the forth to get the win. It was a big win for us.”
On Saturday, the Hillmen won five matches to win the Richland Center Invitational. Platteville swept Belleville (25–23, 27–25), Belmont (25–7, 25–10) and Wisconsin Dells (25–10, 25–22) in pool play, rallied past Lodi (23–25, 25–22, 15–11) in the semifinals thendefeated the host Hornets for the second time in three days (25–19, 26–24) in the semifinals and in the championship match.
Digman slammed 63 kills and had 14 blocks and 50 digs in five matches. Sophomore Becca Hoyer added 31 kills, while Baker passed out 119 assists and served up four aces.
"Winning the Richland Center Tournament was a great way to end the week," said Duerst. "We had many close games that we came back to win. We work well together as a team. We need to work on keeping our errors to a minimal and don't give up easy points. The season is off to a great start. We will continue to push ourselves during practice and work on a few things that could use improving. If we keep working hard and believing in each other we will have a great season!
Platteville (9–4, 1–0 SWC) will return to action Dodgeville (3–3, 1–0) Thursday night before hosting River Valley in another key early-season SWC match on Tuesday.
Platteville 3, Richland Center 1
(from Thursday, Aug. 31 @ Platteville)
Richland Center 19 23 25 18
Platteville 25 25 19 25
Platteville stat leaders
Kills: Skye Digman 22, Izzy Carroll 13. Blocks: Britney Baker 6, Digman 4. Assists: Britney Baker 50. Aces: Carroll 1, Josie Nies 1. Digs: Emilie Busch 29, Carroll 23.
Richland Center Invitational
(from Saturday, Sept. 2 @ Richland Center)
Championship: Platteville def. Richland Center 25–19, 26–24.
Semifinals: Platteville def. Lodi 23–25, 25–22, 15–11. Richland Center def. Reedsburg 25–27, 26–24, 15–12.
Platteville pool play match scores
Platteville def. Belleville 25–23, 27–25
Platteville def. Belmont 25–7, 25–10
Platteville def. Wisconsin Dells 25–10, 25–22.
Platteville stat leaders
Kills: Skye Digman 63, Becca Hoyer 31, Izzy Carroll 20. Blocks: Digman 14, Britney Baker 4. Assists: Britney Baker 119. Aces: Digman 4, Carroll 4. Digs: Carroll 58, Emilie Busch 55, Digman 50.