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Regional champs
Third-ranked Hillmen dominate River Valley for third time this season
pla vb group
Seniors Morgan Stecklein (7), Faye Bailie (8), Marissa Marino (6) and Lexi Budden (12) celebrate set point during Plattevilles WIAA Division 2 regional final victory over River Valley on Saturday night.

Platteville has ended River Valley’s season for the third time in as many years.

The Hillmen dominated the Blackhawks for the third straight time 25–9, 25–19, 18–25, 25–19 to win a WIAA Division 2 volleyball regional title Saturday night at Platteville High School.

The Hillmen needed grueling five-set victories on the Blackhawks’ home court each of the past two years to send River Valley packing.

This year, no such theatrics were needed.

The now senior-dominate Hillmen were at the top of their game Saturday night in front of a boisterous home crowd.

Platteville (33–4), ranked third in the final WVCA Division 2 poll, served a season-best 90.2 percent with just nine service errors in four sets, posted a season-high 22 blocks and all nine seniors played a part.

Morgan Stecklein (14 kills, 4 blocks), Maddie Carroll (11 kills, 3 digs) and Faye Bailie (10 kills, 7 blocks) each posted double-digit kill totals to lead a balanced offense.

Allison Woodworth posted a season-high eight blocks and added four kills. Bailie’s seven blocks were also a season-high.

Setters Jenna Phillips (23 assists, 6 digs) and Rachel Emendorfer (22 assists, 11 digs) passed as well as they have all year and were all over the court defensively.

Claire Tashner (7 kills, 10 digs, 5 blocks, 3 aces, 20-for-20 serving) and Marissa Marino (6 kills, 7 digs, 4 blocks, 19-for-21 serving) played their usual solid all-around games contributing in multiple categories.

Lexi Budden made five digs and had an ace, playing back row defense.

“Beating River Valley for the third time showed we are a strong program,” said Platteville head coach Lindsay Neal. “It wasn’t a fluke the first or second time. 

“The girls came out ready mentally and physically for the game. They were focused on our objective-beat River Valley.”

The Hillmen swept the regular season series from River Valley (ranked sixth in Division 2) to win the Southwest Wisconsin Conference title for the second straight year.

Platteville got off to a fantastic start Saturday as Tashner served 10 straight points to give the Hillmen a 15–5 lead in the opening set. All six Platteville hitters had a kill in the easy 25–9 victory.

The Hillmen used an 11–3 run midway thought the second set to turn a 10–10 tie into a 21–13 lead. Emendorfer passed out assists on four of five points and a Bailie blocked capped the run.

Tashner’s thunderous kill on game point gave Platteville a 2–0 lead.

The Blackhawks (37–6) fought back behind five kills and a block from 6-foot-1 senior middle hitter Alyssa Mueller to take the third set, 25–19. Mueller finished with 11 kills and three blocks. Fellow senior Kylie Hoffman led River Valley with 15 kills.

“I told them that I guess it wouldn’t be Hillmen Volleyball if we didn’t go at least four games with River Valley,” said Neal. “I wasn’t upset about it. The third game is where we tend to hit a little bit of a wall physically especially after playing so hard in games one and two.  I laughed a little and said let’s get the next one.”

Get the next one they did.

The Hillmen used a 15–7 run midway through the fourth set to build a 21–14 lead. Bailie’s quick-set kill on match-point punctuated the victory.

Platteville (33–4) will now face unranked Wisconsin Dells (31–3) in a D2 sectional semifinal at Richland Center High School Thursday at 7 p.m.

The Chiefs swept Reedsburg Saturday night to win their regional.

Platteville defeated Wisconsin Dells, 25–23, 23–25, 25–14, 25–12, in last year’s sectional semifinals on the way to state.

With a win, the Hillmen would advance to Saturday’s sectional final at McFarland High School, where a possible showdown with second-ranked East Troy (29–9) awaits.

“I hear we are the better team against the Dells, but not something we will take lightly,” said Neal. “Saturday’s potential match will be our true challenge and test our team. If we play Saturday it will be by far the toughest match of our season. East Troy is a great program.  We will have to be at the top of our game which I know we can do.”

The top-seeded Hillmen opened the playoffs with a first-round bye then swept Richland Center in a regional semifinal on Thursday, 25–23, 25–14, 25–17.

The Hornets (19–16) were up to the challenge early on and even led 23–21 in the opening game.

But Emendorfer severed four straight points to lead the Hillmen to a comeback victory in game one, turning the entire momentum of the match.

Carroll finished with 11 kills, Bailie added 10 kills and three blocks and Stecklein posted nine kills, eight digs and three aces to led Platteville.

WIAA Division 2 Regional Semifinal
Platteville 3, Richland Center 0

(from Thursday, Oct. 22 @ Platteville)
Richland Center   23    14     17
Platteville             25    25     25
Platteville stat leaders
Kills: Maddie Carroll 11, Faye Bailie 10, Morgan Stecklein 9, Allison Woodworth 5. Blocks: Bailie 3, Tashner 3. Aces: Stecklein 3, Marissa Marino 2, Tashner 2. Assists: Rachel Emendorfer 18, Jenna Phillips 16. Digs: Stecklein 8, Tashner 8, Phillips 6, Lexi Budden 6.

WIAA Division 2 Regional Final
Platteville 3, River Valley 0

(from Saturday, Oct. 24 @ Platteville)
River Valley        9    19    25     19
Platteville        25    25    18     25
Platteville stat leaders
Kills: Morgan Stecklein 14, Maddie Carroll 11, Faye Bailie 10, Claire Tashner 7. Blocks: Allison Woodworth 8, Bailie 7, Tashner 5, Stecklein 4, Marissa Marino 4. Aces: Tasher 3, Stecklein 2. Assists: Jenna Phillips 23, Rachel Emendorfer 22. Digs: Emendorfer 11, Tashner 8, Marino 5.