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Trojans block state path
Dodge, East Troy end Platteville season one match shy of state
pla vb stecklein
Platteville senior Morgan Stecklein (7) tries to hit through East Troys triple block during Saturdays WIAA Division 2 sectional semifinal. Stecklein managed a team-high 16 kills, in the 31 loss to the Trojans.

MCFARLAND — With a trio of mighty swings, East Troy senior outside hitter Mary Dodge set the tone for Saturday night’s WIAA Division 2 sectional final.

The University of Wisconsin recruit hammered three thunderous kills in a four-point span as the second-ranked Trojans raced out to a 6–0 lead in the first set against the third-ranked Platteville Hillmen.

It became quickly apparent to all those in attendance which was the superior team.

East Troy dominated the first two sets and went on to claim the sectional title 25–13, 25–18, 21–25, 25–19, ending Platteville’s 24-match winning streak and the season one win shy of a return to the state tournament.

“East Troy is an incredible team,” said Platteville head coach Lindsay Neal. “They can pass, serve, dig up every ball and can crush hits. They were by far the best team we have competed against this year. It was a good team to lose to if we had to lose. Our theme for the night was ‘All In,’ and the girls played all in. They left it all out on the court.”

The Trojans (31–9), the 2013 D2 state champions, advanced to face fifth-ranked Altoona (44–3) in Friday’s D2 state semifinals at the Resch Center in Green Bay.

Platteville finished 34–5, a year after going 40–6 and earning the program’s first trip to state since the Hillmen won the D2 state title in 2014.

“I am very happy with our team,” added Neal. “I can’t be upset over that kind of loss. I know the girls played their hearts out knowing this was their last shot. We played our game in the third set and we needed to be that consistent the entire match to beat East Troy. But they kept us out of our game little bits at a time in each set, which made it hard for us to keep the pressure on them more and harder for us to stay in our rhythm.”

Dodge, who will play libero for the Badgers next fall, finished with a match-high 18 kills (six in the opening set) and 22 digs.

Six-foot-2 senior middle hitter Katrina Santos added 13 kills and fellow senior Chloe Jakscht had 40 assists, 14 digs and three kills. East Troy’s fourth senior, libero Carly Atchison, added 13 digs and three aces.

Platteville committed 10 errors in the opening set to just four for the Trojans.

Neal switched her starting lineup for one of the few times this season, moving her rotation up one spot to have senior Claire Tashner go head-to-head against Dodge.

Tashner responded with a match-high four blocks and helped force Dodge into a match-high nine hitting errors, but the entirety of East Troy’s team was too much to overcome, especially on defense.

The Trojans recorded 69 digs, many on spectacular diving saves, and held the Hillmen to a miniscule .095 hitting percentage, Platteville’s third lowest mark this season.

Senior Morgan Stecklein put down a team-high 16 kills in 32 attempts with just three errors, but the rest of the Platteville lineup struggled to put away points.

The rest of the Hillmen accounted for 18 kills on 84 attempts with 20 errors for a hitting percentage of –0.024.

East Troy used a 5–0 run late in the second set, that was punctuated by consecutive aces from freshman Brianna Scuric and a Dodge kill, to turn a 19–15 lead into a 24–15 advantage.

Down two sets to none, Platteville (34–5) battled to take the third set from the taller, more athletic Trojans (31–9).

An East Troy hitting error gave the Hillmen their first lead of the night at 3–2. The Trojans rallied to take an 11–8 lead, but a kill by Stecklein and a block by Allison Woodworth helped Platteville regained the lead at 12–11. The teams traded points throughout the rest of the set.

A Maddie Carroll kill made it 21–19 and back-to-back East Troy errors extended the Platteville lead to four at 23–19.

Marissa Marino put down a kill to make it 24–21 and on set point Dodge set a ball well past the end line.

The teams again traded points early in the fourth set. Stecklein slammed a kill to pull the Hillmen with three points at 6–9, but a six-point run on the serve of junior Natalee Bearce gave East Troy a commanding 15–6 lead in the fourth set and Platteville never got closer than five points the rest of the night.

Stecklein finished with 16 kills and seven digs. Tashner added five kills and led the team with 10 digs, four blocks and two aces. Marino chipped in four kills and nine digs.

Senior Rachel Emendorfer passed out a team-high 16 assists, while fellow senior setter Jenna Phillips had 13 assists and eight digs.

The loss ends the career of Platteville’s entire nine-person, all-senior rotation Phillips, Tashner, Woodworth, Marino, Stecklein, Carroll, Emendorfer, Faye Bailie and Lexi Budden.

“It is hard not making it to state when we know we are a state caliber team and we were so close,” added Neal. “I told the girls they have a lot to be proud of over their four years and especially this year.

“As a whole, the season has been quite a ride. Looking back at day one of team camp up to now I can’t believe the progress we have made as a program. Overall it was a great season. We had 24 straight wins, we won two tournaments and placed second in another. We were out right conference champions, we were regional champions and were a sectional finalist and one of the final eights teams left playing in Division 2. We had a great year!”

Phillips, Tashner, Stecklein, Carroll and Emendoefer were on varsity since their freshmen years, leading the Hillmen to a 135–28–4 record (.808) during that span, as well as back-to-back SWC titles, three straight regional titles and a sectional championship and a trip to state one year ago.

East Troy 3, Platteville 2
(from Saturday, Oct. 31 @ McFarland)

East Troy        25    25    21     25
Platteville        13    18    25     19
Platteville stat leaders
Kills: Morgan Stecklein 16, Claire Tashner 5, Marissa Marino 4, Maddie Carroll 3, Allison Woodworth 3, Faye Bailie 2, Lexi Budden 1. Blocks: Tashner 4, Bailie 3, Woodworth 2, Marino 1. Aces: Tasher 2, Rachel Emendorfer 1. Assists: Rachel Emendorfer 16, Jenna Phillips 13. Digs: Tashner 10, Marino 9, Phillips 8, Stecklein 7, Lexi Budden 6, Emendorfer 2.

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RICHLAND CENTER — Last Tuesday, Platteville overcame an inconsistent performance to defeat Wisconsin Dells, 25–22, 25–14, 24–26, 25–18 in a D2 sectional semifinal at Richland Center High School.

Stecklein posted a team-high 17 kills and seven digs to lead the Hillmen.

Carroll finished second on the team with 12 kills, including four straight late in the opening set to help Platteville rally from an 18–19 deficit to a 22–20 lead.

Woodworth added eight kills and seven blocks. Bailie posted nine kills and three blocks. Phillips led the team with 25 assists and had seven digs and two assists. Budden also had seven digs.

Platteville blew a 23–20 lead in the third set, as the Chiefs (31–4) used a 6–1 closing run to force a fourth set.

But the Hillmen jumped out to a 6–2 lead in the fourth set and never trailed again. Woodworth had a pair of kills and a pair of blocks in a 6–1 run that gave Platteville a 19–9 lead.

WIAA Division 2 Regional Semifinal
Platteville 3, Wisconsin Dells 1
(from Thursday, Oct. 29 @ Richland Center)
Wisconsin Dells  22    14    26     18
Platteville            25    25    24     25
Platteville stat leaders
Kills: Morgan Stecklein 17, Maddie Carroll 12, Faye Bailie 9, Allison Woodworth 8. Blocks: Woodworth 7, Bailie 3, Stecklein 3. Aces: Claire Tashner 3, Jenna Phillips 2. Assists: Jenna Phillips 25, Rachel Emendorfer 20. Digs: Stecklein 7, Phillips 7, Lexi Budden 7.