Warhawks back in regional finals
The Warhawks were pushed the first two games Friday, but made Bethel (Minn.) their latest 3-0 victim in the semifinals of a regional being hosted by the University of St. Thomas.
Whitewater disposed of the Royals, 30-24, 30-28, 30-11.
Whitewater (33-4), the WIAC regular-season and tournament champion, stretched its win streak to 14 matches and its regional tournament record to 8-0 since 2005.
The Warhawks face St. Thomas (28-4) in tonight’s 7 o’clock title match. The winner advances to next week’s Elite Eight at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Ill.
St. Thomas defeated Central (Iowa), 35-37, 30-21, 30-25, 16-30, 15-10, in Friday’s other semifinal match.
Whitewater split two matches with St. Thomas last season, including a 3-0 win in the regional tournament. This will be their only meeting this season.
The Warhawks reached the semifinals in last year’s Elite Eight after winning national titles in 2002 and 2005.
Whitewater led only 22-20 in Game 1 against Bethel, but kills by Abby Schultz and Carley Polk started a string of four straight points for a 26-20 lead.
Game 2 was similar, with the Warhawks opening up a 24-19 lead. Bethel took 27-26 and 28-27 leads before Whitewater scored the final three points to build a 2-0 game advantage in the match.
“The turning point of the match was the way we were able to finish out Game 2 so strongly,” Whitewater coach Stacy Boudreau said. “I think that took a lot out of (Bethel).
“Then our servers really turned it up in Game 3. We served very aggressively, and that took them out of their offense.”
Christina Conlin had four aces in Game 3 to help put an exclamation point on the victory.
“Seeing them live, Whitewater really serves and passes even tougher than you see when scouting them,” Bethel coach Gretchen Hunt said. “And serving and passing are still the name of the game in college.
“They are a balanced team,” she said of the Warhawks. “If you try to shut down one player, someone else will step up and hurt you.”
Conlin finished with five aces and 16 digs, while teammate Kelly Sorenson added 13 kills and 11 digs.
Whitewater’s other leaders were Kate Lazotte, 40 assists and 12 digs; Schultz, 18 digs and 10 kills; Rebekah Nelson, 14 digs and eight kills; and Polk, seven kills and five blocks.
Bethel (24-9) received 14 kills from Liz Glesne, along with 13 digs and 32 assists from Laura Naig.
Boudreau said the Warhawks play loosely but have a strong focus.
“One thing this team has is the mental aspect of volleyball,” she said. “They do a great job of adjusting and reacting to the other team.
“They set such high goals and are very focused, but they also like to have fun. They do everything together, not just on the volleyball court but off the court as well. I think that closeness shows up out there, as they know they can trust each other.”
WHITEWATER 3, BETHEL 0
UW-Whitewater 30 30 30
Bethel University 24 28 11
Whitewater (aces-kills-digs-assists)—Abby Schultz, 0-10-18-1; Sarah Theis, 0-6-1-0; Rebekah Nelson, 1-8-14-3; Kate Lazotta, 1-2-12-40; Kelly Sorenson, 0-13-11-0; Carley Polk, 0-7-0-0; Alyse Karls, 0-0-2-0; Kristina Carlin, 5-1-16-0; Liz Benzschawel, 0-0-0-0. Totals: 7-47-74-44.
Bethel (aces-kills-digs-assists)—Casey Fregeau, 0-0-6-0; Kelly Otto, 0-5-3-0; Amy Anderson, 0-6-3-0; Liz Glesne, 0-14-5-0; Laura Naig, 1-2-13-32; Stephanie Schmidt, 0-5-0-2; Kayla Schmidt, 1-0-14-1; Hannah Parks, 0-0-0-0; Joslin Geisler, 1-0-20-1; Jennifer Stoa, 0-6-1-1. Totals: 3-38-65-37.