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Titans To Host Eagles In WIAC Volleyball Opener

Titans To Host Eagles In WIAC Volleyball Opener

UW-Oshkosh hosts UW-La Crosse in the WIAC women's volleyball opener for both teams on Wednesday (Sept. 20) in Kolf Sports Center.

UW-La Crosse and UW-Oshkosh have earned a share of the last two WIAC titles. The Titans and UW-La Crosse were the co-champions of the league in 2015, while UW-Oshkosh, UW-La Crosse and UW-Whitewater each grabbed a share of the conference crown a year ago.

UW-Oshkosh (8-4) enters Wednesday's match with wins in eight of its last nine contests while UW-La Crosse (6-4) has lost three of its last four.

The Titans own an 11-5 record against UW-La Crosse since 2006. However, the Eagles have won the past three meetings by 3-1 scores, including two in the WIAC Tournament. UW-La Crosse won the third-place match of the 2015 conference tournament over UW-Oshkosh and ousted the Titans during the semifinal round of the league tournament last season.

Each of UW-Oshkosh's four losses this season were to nationally ranked teams. The Titans began the year with setbacks in Texas to top-ranked and defending national champion Calvin College (Mich.), sixth-ranked and 2015 national champion California Lutheran University, and 14th-ranked Trinity University (Texas). UW-Oshkosh's lone loss since the opening weekend was a 3-2 decision to eighth-ranked and 10-time national champion Washington University in St. Louis (Mo.) on Sept. 8.

UW-La Crosse began the year with four straight wins before losing a five-set match to Viterbo University, which was ranked second in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. The Eagles have since suffered losses to University of Northwestern (Minn.) on Sept. 8, University of St. Thomas (Minn.) on Sept. 9 and Luther College (Iowa) on Sept. 15. University of Northwestern, which was ranked second in the NCAA Division III, advanced to last year's national semifinals.

UW-Oshkosh is led by juniors Tina Elstner and Carly Lemke, and sophomores Rachel Gardner and Samantha Jaeke.

Elstner has a team-high 124 kills and 22 service aces while Lemke paces the squad with 34 blocks. Gardner's 193 digs lead the Titans while Jaeke owns a team-leading 121 assists. Jaeke ranks second on the Titans with 104 kills and 31 blocks.

UW-La Crosse senior Stephanie Henk, the reigning WIAC Offensive Player of the Year, paces the Eagles with 112 kills and 17 service aces. Other team leaders for the Eagles include senior Maddie Entinger with 290 assists, senior Halle Barnabo with 150 digs and sophomore Kathryn Maas with 32 blocks.

UW-Oshkosh has won 19 of its last 20 matches in Kolf Sports Center, including seven of eight this season.