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Talented Hillmen off to a quick start
Hillmen win La Follette tourney, the finish second at 23-team UW–Whitewater Invitational
Sophomore setter Emily Fields has 218 assists, 88 digs and 12 aces in 12 matches to help the Platteville volleyball team to an 11–1 start to the season. The Hillmen went 4–0 to win the Madison La Follette Invitational last Tuesday, then went 7–1 to finish third out over the weekend at the 23-team UW–Whitewater Invitational. - photo by file photo by Jason Nihles

MADISON — The talented, senior-dominated Platteville volleyball team is off to a quick start in 2019.

Coach Danielle Duerst’s Hillmen went 4–0 to win last Tuesday’s seven-team Madison La Follette Invitational, then finished third out of 23 teams Saturday at the two-day UW–Whitewater Invitational.

Duerst returns four-year varsity players Izzy Carroll, Becca Hoyer and Josie Nies, along with three-year senior starter M.J. Stephens, second-team All-SWC junior middle hitter Alyana Digman and lanky sophomore setter Emily Fields, from last year’s 28–11, SWC championship team 

The Hillmen swept Fond du Lac St. Mary’s Springs, 25–23, 25–16, 25–10, then defeated Fort Atkinson 25–20, 23–25, 25–23 in a close match to win their pool in Tuesday’s season-opening event at La Follette. Platteville then held off Sauk Prairie, 25–17, 23–25, 25–12 in the semifinals, and rallied past Milton 21–25, 25–23, 15–12 in the championship match.

“It was a great way to start the season,” said Duerst. “We played as a team and were smart with the ball.”  

Digman posted a team-high 31 kills and nine blocks to lead Platteville’s all-around team effort. Carroll, the reigning SWC Player of the Year, added 19 kills, 10 blocks and 51 digs. Hoyer posted 23 kills and 51 digs. Nies added 19 kills and a team-high 56 digs.

Fields passed out 79 assists and had nine blocks, Stephens served up a team-high nine aces and junior Madison Devlin added 17 kills in four matches off the bench. 

Friday, the Hillmen swept their way through pool play at UW–Whitewater with a victories over Kenosha Indian Trail (25–14, 23–25, 15–8), Randolph (27–29, 25–10, 15–5), Milton (25–17, 25–16) and Tomahawk (25–9, 25–11).

They opened championship bracket play Saturday morning with easy sweeps of Bloomer (25–16, 25–20) of McFarland (25–23, 25–21) before scoring a 25–23, 25–21 victory over Monona Grove in the quarterfinals.

Platteville’s tournament run came to an end with a 25–19, 18–25, 15–7 loss to Waterloo in the semifinals. The Hillmen tied for third place with Lakeside Lutheran (6–2). 

The Pirates (8–1) went on to finish second after a championship loss to undefeated Union Grove (11–0).

“We had a very tough pool to start the tournament but we played together and kept pushing forward,” said Duerst. “We played will Saturday too, but fell just short to play in the championship match.”

Carroll finished with a team-high 62 kills and 98 digs, as well as 12 blocks and nine aces in eight matches at UW–Whitewater to earn a spot on the All-Tournament team.

Digman continued to be a force in the middle opposite Carroll, finishing with 47 kills, a team-high 17 blocks and 14 aces.

Junior Maddie Cooley, who did not play in the season-opening tournament at La Follette, was a boost to the Hillmen lineup with 26 kills and 10 blocks. Stephens finished with 91 digs and seven aces, while Fields passed out 139 assists (17.4 per match) and served six aces in the tournament.

“What a way to start the season,” added Duerst. “11–1 in two tournaments; I can’t complain to much. We are playing well as a team and can’t wait to see what the rest of the season is going to bring.”

Platteville opened Southwest Wisconsin Conference play Tuesday night at home against River Valley and will now host Lancaster Thursday at 7:15 p.m. They will then travel to the Richland Center Invitational on Saturday before returning to Richland Center Tuesday for an SWC match.

Madison La Follette Invitational
(from Tuesday, Aug. 27 @ Madison)
Platteville match scores
Platteville def. Fond du Lac St. Mary’s Springs 25–23, 25–16, 25–10
Platteville def. Fort Atkinson 25–20, 23–25, 25–23
Platteville def. Sauk Prairie 25–17, 23–25, 25–12
Platteville def. Milton 21–25, 25–23, 15–11
Platteville stat leaders (entire tourney)
Kills: Alayna Digman 31, Becca Hoyer 23, Izzy Carroll 19, Josie Nies 19, Madison Devlin 17, Emily Fields 9. Blocks: Carroll 10, Digman 9. Assists: Fields 79. Aces: MJ Stephens 9, Fields 6. Digs: Nies 56, Carroll 51, Hoyer 47, Stephens 46, Fields 31.

UW–Whitewater Warhawk Invitational
(from Friday–Saturday, Aug. 24–25)
Platteville pool play match scores (Friday)
Platteville def. Kenosha Indian Trail 25–14, 23–25, 15–8
Platteville def. Randolph 27–29, 25–10, 15–5
Platteville def. Milton 25–17, 25–16
Platteville def. Tomahawk 25–9, 25–11
Platteville bracket play scores (Saturday)
Platteville def. Bloomer 25–16, 25–20
Platteville def. McFarland 25–22, 25-16
Platteville def. Monona Grove 25–23, 25–21
Waterloo def. Platteville 25–19, 18–25, 15–7
Platteville stat leaders (entire tourney)
Kills: Izzy Carroll 63, Alayna Digman 47, Maddie Cooley 26, Becca Hoyer 25, Josie Nies 12. Blocks: Digman 17, Carroll 12, M. Cooley 10, Hoyer 6, Fields 5. Assists: Fields 139. Aces: Digman 14, Carroll 9, MJ Stepehns 7, Fields 6. Digs: Carroll 98, Stephens 91, Hoyer 64, Nies 61, Fields 57.