SPRING GREEN — The Platteville volleyball team isn’t in a sharing mood this year.
Coach Lindsay Neal’s Hillmen defeated rival River Valley, 25–21, 25–18, 14–25, 25–19, Thursday night in Spring Green to claim this year’s Southwest Wisconsin Conference title and end the Blackhawks’ four-year run as conference champion.
Senior Morgan Stecklein slammed a match-high 17 kills, had seven digs and served up four aces to lead the Hillmen Fellow senior outside hitter Maddie Carroll added 11 kills for the winners.
“Maddie and Morgan made a number of big plays for us,” said coach Neal. “River Valley was shutting down our backside hitters, they were ready for them, but they couldn’t stop those two girls on the outside. Maddie made big plays using tips that the defense just couldn’t pick up and hitting in middle back. Morgan also put some big hits down for us. Our defense also stood out. We were so scrappy and were making plays on balls that we normally let drop.”
The Hillmen (30–4, 9–0 SWC) held off a late rally in the first set, and dominated the second to take a 2–0 lead.
River Valley (29–5, 7–2) took advantage of a handful of Platteville errors in the third set and pulled away for an 11-point win to extend the match.
But fifth-ranked Platteville was too deep, too strong and too balanced in the fourth set.
“There were many times that River Valley made a run in points on us but we didn’t let that shut us down,” said Neal. “We kept fighting, we were scrappy, service errors were kept to a minimum, we were using all hitters and trying hard to make their defense have to move.”
The Hillmen have now won 20 straight matches and 29 of their last 30 after a 1–3 start to the season. Platteville has also won at least 30 matches in five straight seasons.
River Valley, ranked eighth in Division 2, fell to 29–5 overall and 7–2 in the conference. The Blackhawks shared last year’s SWC title with Platteville and won the 2012 and 2013 conference titles outright.
“I am very happy we won the conference title,” added Neal. “I had every confidence we would be outright SWC champions. River Valley prepared for us, they played much better than the first time, but we were able to adapt to their changes and keep ourselves in the game.”
Platteville will close out the season next Thursday at home against Richland Center.
The WIAA playoffs begin Tuesday, Oct. 20 and the Hillmen clinched a first-round bye and home court advantage throughout its seven-team regional with Thursday night’s win.
Platteville will host the winner of Tuesday’s Richland Center (18–12) at Mount Horeb (17–10) match next Thursday at 7 p.m.
River Valley is the second seed in the regional. The Hillmen and Blackhawks are favorites to play for the regional title on Saturday, Oct. 24.
Platteville 3, River Valley 1
(from Thursday, Oct. 8 @ Spring Green)
Platteville 25 25 14 25
River Valley 21 18 25 19
Platteville stat leaders
Kills: Morgan Stecklein 17, Maddie Carroll 11, Claire Tashner 6, Allison Woodworth 5, Faye Bailie 4. Blocks: Marissa Marino 7, Woodworth 6, Bailie 5, Tashner 3. Aces: Stecklein 4, Rachel Emendorfer 3, Tashner 2. Assists: Rachel Emendorfer 18, Jenna Phillips 18. Digs: Marino 10, Lexi Budden 7, Stecklein 7, Tashner 5.