Two weekends ago the Platteville volleyball team opened the season with a second-place finish at the eight-team West Salem Invitational.
Last Thursday the Hillmen had their first crack at a conference opponent.
Platteville dominated the first two sets, regrouped after a subpar third set and hammered visiting Lancaster going away in the fourth and final set to post a convincing 25–21, 25–15, 20–25, 25–15 victory in the SWC opener for both teams.
“It is obviously good to start off 1–0 in conference,” said Platteville head coach Yvette Updike. “I was most pleased on how well the team played on both offense and defense. The team played very scrappy which allowed for some great saves throughout the match.”
Platteville’s scrappy defense, led by junior libero Briette Updike (23 digs) and Ashley Budden (9 digs, 7 blocks), kept a number of rallies alive and allowed Hillmen setters Jenna Phillips and Rachel Emendorfer to find Platteville’s array of talent hitters.
Sophomore middle hitter Morgan Stecklein was Platteville’s leader with 18 kills, but fellow sophomores Maddie Carroll and Claire Tashner also had nice hitting nights with nine and eight kills respectively.
Platteville (6–1–1, 1–0 SWC) jumped out to a 5–1 lead in the opening set and never trailed.
Lancaster (6–5–2, 0–1) tied the set at 11–11 on back-to-back kills by senior Jenna Vesperman, but three Lancaster errors on the next four points allowed Platteville to pull ahead 15–11.
The Hillmen extended their lead to 20–15 when Carroll caught fire in the front row and slammed three kills in a four-point span.
Platteville had back-to-back service errors late in the set, but Budden floored a kill on set-point for the four-point victory.
The second set was a back-and-forth affair until Stecklein served up seven straight points during a 12–2 Platteville run that gave the Hillmen a 15–8 lead. Stecklein had two kills, a block and an ace during the run.
Later in the set Tashner served five straight points to cap a 6–0 Platteville run making it 22–11.
“We started off the first two sets executing our offense very well and our defensive play was solid, as well,” said Updike. “In the third set we struggled with the pass to begin our offense which allowed Lancaster to pull off the win in the third set.
Platteville made seven combined errors, both hitting an receive, and couldn’t dig out of a 9–19 hole in the third set, despite four kills and a block by Stecklein in a late 8–1 run that pulled the Hillmen within three at 20–23.
Between sets Coach Updike implored her team to turn up the intensity and take it to the next level. Her Hillmen responded, specifically her daughter.
The younger Updike served five straight points that allowed Platteville to build a comfortable 12–3 lead to open the fourth set. Updike finished the night with a match-high four aces.
Stecklein twice slammed back-to-back kills to give Platteville leads of 18–12 and 22–15, then hammered home a Phillips set on match-point to seal the victory.
“We regained our tempo to both our offense and defense in the fourth set,” said Updike.
Phillips finished the match with a team-high 23 assists. Emendorfer passed out 17 assists.
Platteville traveled to Dodgeville Tuesday night and will return to action Thursday at home against Prairie du Chien. Saturday the Hillmen will participate in the Wisconsin Dells Invitational.
Platteville 3, Lancaster 1
(from Thursday, Sept. 5 @ Platteville)
Lancaster 21 15 25 15
Platteville 25 25 20 25
Platteville stat leaders
Kills: Morgan Stecklein 16, Maddie Carroll 9, Clarie Tashner 8. Blocks: Ashley Budden 7, Marissa Marino 2, Stecklen 1, Carroll 1, Rachel Emendorfer 1. Assists: Jenna Phillips 23, Emendorfer 17. Aces: Briette Updike 4, Tashner 2, Stecklein 1, Budden 1. Digs: Updike 23, Budden 9, Stecklein 8.