UW-Whitewater volleyball opens regional with sweep
The Warhawks, who have five seniors in key roles, improved their postseason record to 17-3 since 2005 with a 3-0 win over Concordia-Moorhead (Minn.) in the first round of the NCAA Division III regional tournament at the University of St. Thomas.
Top-seeded Whitewater won 30-26, 30-23, 30-22, giving the eighth-ranked Warhawks (32-4) 13 straight victories and 23 in the last 25 matches.
The WIAC regular-season and tournament champions play senior-led Bethel (Minn.), a 3-0 winner over St. Benedict (Minn.) at 4:30 p.m. today in the semifinals.
“We’re happy to get the win, and to do it 3-0 is even better,” Whitewater coach Stacy Boudreau said. “Our players have been in a lot of big games. I think that experience kept us steady in the first game and helped us pull out the victory.”
Whitewater trailed 20-18 in Game 1. The match was tied 25-25 before the Warhawks surged to their four-point win, capped by kills from seniors Abby Schultz and Carley Polk.
Whitewater forged leads of 11-4 and 16-6 in Game 2 en route to a 2-0 lead in the match. In Game 3, the Warhawks led just 15-14 before hitting the Cobbers with a few scoring bursts to close out the match.
“Pulling out that first game was huge, as it gave us the momentum into the next two games,” Schultz said. “Concordia was very scrappy on defense, and you have to give credit to them. They stood up to a lot of our big hits.”
Concordia (17-9), the Minnesota conference runner-up, reached the NCAA tournament for the fifth straight year but had only one senior in its lineup.
Whitewater, the 2002 and 2005 national champion, is now 24-5 in NCAA tournament play since 2000. Schultz said the Warhawks’ experience also helped them stay focused on the task at hand.
“We really do try to take each match at a time,” she said. “At this point of the season, with the caliber of teams still playing, you know you’re only one loss from ending your season.
“We know we have to come out and play our best. The first one is always good to get through because everyone has the nerves and adrenaline going.”
Whitewater hit .219 and had 17 blocks against Concordia. Schultz had 14 kills and 18 digs, while Polk had 13 kills with .346 attack percentage.
The Warhawks’ other leaders included Kelly Sorenson, 11 kills and 16 digs; Kate Lazotte, 47 assists and 17 digs; and Rebekah Nelson, 14 digs and nine kills.
The Warhawks also like the fact that their first two matches in this regional are against teams they haven’t played this season.
“It’s nice to see some new faces, new styles and new defenses,” Schultz said. “It makes it more fun to play against new teams.”
Bethel, which has three seniors in prominent roles, placed fourth in the 12-team Minnesota conference but took No. 12-ranked St. Thomas to five games last week.
WHITEWATER 3, CONCORDIA 0
Concordia-Moohead 26 23 22
UW-Whitewater 30 30 30
Concordia (aces-kills-digs-assists)—Angie Bonde, 0-3-6-0; Jill Hance, 0-1-5-21; Michelle Honek, 1-11-13-0; Abby Scheel, 0-12-4-0; Valerie Glynn, 0-5-2-1; Dana Wermers, 0-4-1-0; Allie Burnside, 0-0-2-0; Stephanie Peterson, 1-2-1-2; Nicole Pritchard, 0-0-0-0; Alyssa Dahl, 0-0-13-18; Maggie Olson, 0-2-1-0; Anna Tinkham, 0-0-26-1; Erin Skykora, 0-7-6-0; Mattea Elhard, 0-0-0-0. Totals: 2-47-80-43.
Whitewater (aces-kills-digs-assists)—Abby Schultz, 0-14-18-0; Sarah Theis, 0-7-1-0; Rebekah Nelson, 1-9-14-1; Kate Lazotte, 1-2-17-47; Kelly Sorenson, 0-11-16-1; Kelly Sorenson, 0-11-16-1; Carley Polk, 0-13-0-2; Alyse Karls, 1-0-4-0; Kristina Conlin, 1-0-10-1. Totals: 4-56-80-52.
NCAA Division III Volleyball
ST. THOMAS REGIONAL
At St. Paul, Minn.
UW-Whitewater def. Concordia-Moorhead (Minn.), 30-26, 30-23, 30-22
Bethel (Minn.) def. St. Benedict, 30-19, 30-28, 30-23
Central, Iowa def. Carleton College (Minn.) 30-27, 30-23, 30-21
St. Thomas, Minn. def. UW-Eau Claire, 30-25, 23-30, 30-26, 30-15
4:30 p.m.—Whitewater (32-4) vs. Bethel (24-8)
7 p.m.—Central (27-8) vs. St. Thomas (27-4)
7 p.m.—Semifinals winners