WHITEWATER — The Platteville volleyball team opened the season over the weekend with a fourth-place finish at the 29-team UW–Whitewater Warhawk Open.
The Hillmen opened the tournament with a 25–15, 19–25, 15–13 win over Burlington Catholic Central Friday, but then suffered a narrow 26–28, 25–21, 16–14 loss to Randolph and a 25–19, 25–18 loss to eventual champion Franklin.
The loss to Randolph relegated the Hillmen to a third-place finish in Friday’s pool play, but Platteville won a tie-breaker match with Evansville (15–12) to earn a spot in Saturday’s the 16-team championship gold bracket.
Platteville made the most of the opportunity by rallying to defeat Division 1 Kenosha Bradford 17–25, 25–17, 15–10 and New Berlin Eisenhower 25–23, 25–13 Saturday morning to reach the Final 4.
Platteville closed the tournament with back-to-back losses to eventual runner-up Lakeside Lutheran 25–8, 25–17, and Merrill in the third-place match 25–18, 26–24.
A year ago, the Hillmen went 3–6 and placed 13th at the Warhawk Open.
“I was very happy they way to played Friday and Saturday,” said new Hillmen head coach Danielle Duerst. “Finishing fourth out of 29 teams is a great way to start out our season.
Despite the fourth-place finish Duerst knows her team has work to do.
“We played very well at time and then not so well at other times,” she added. “We need to speed up our offense, they were predicting us when our offense was at a slower pace. Doing more fast pace sets help speed up our offense. On defense we need to be fast to get our feet set and dig the ball. We communicated well with each other and with time that will just get better. Executing on free balls is a big thing that I emphasize in practice and we did very well on that.”
Returning first-team All-SWC middle hitter Skye Digman led the Hillmen with 78 kills, 18 blocks and 58 digs.
Senior setter Britney Baker passed out 101 assists. Sophomore Izzy Carroll had 33 kills and 15 blocks, and sophomore Becca Hoyer added 28 kills and a team-high four aces.
“Skye did well at the net,” said Duerst. “She was our leading hitter and she helped out getting a big block at the net. Britney has awesome hands and she know where the ball need to go and who is going to put it way.”
Platteville (4–4) will open Southwest Wisconsin Conference play Thursday at home against defending conference champion Richland Center and will then travel to Richland Center Saturday for a tournament.
(from Saturday, Aug. 26 @ Whitewater)
Championship: Franklin def. Lakeside Lutheran 26–24, 25–21.
Third-place: Merrill def. Platteville 25–18, 26–24.
Semifinals: Franklin def. Merrill 25–18, 18–25, 15–9; Lakeside Lutheran def. Platteville 25–8, 25–17.
Quarterfinals: Platteville def. New Berlin Eisenhower 25–23, 25–13.
Gold Bracket round of 16: Platteville def. Kenosha Bradford 17–25, 25–17, 15–10.
Platteville pool play match scores
Platteville def. Catholic Central 25–15, 19–25, 15–13
Randolph def. Platteville 26–28, 25–21, 16–14
Franklin def. Platteville 25–19, 25–18
tiebreaker match: Platteville defeated Evansville 15–12
Pool A: Franklin 3–0, Randolph 2–1, Platteville 1–2, Catholic Central 0–3.
Platteville stat leaders
Kills: Skye Digman 78, Izzy Carroll 33, Becca Hoyer 28. Blocks: Digman 18, Carroll 15. Assists: Britney Baker 101. Aces: Hoyer 4, MJ Stephens 3, Carroll 3, Josie Nies 3. Digs: Emilie Busch 63, Digman 58, Baker 58.