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Titans Conclude Illinois Trip With Mixed Results

Tina Elstner became the first Titan in four years to reach 1,000 career kills.
Tina Elstner became the first Titan in four years to reach 1,000 career kills.

Tina Elstner surpassed 1,000 career kills, compiling a season-high 18 while adding 13 digs during the second contest as the UW-Oshkosh women's volleyball team split a pair of matches on Saturday (Sept. 22) in Aurora, Ill.

UW-Oshkosh (9-7) defeated tournament host Aurora University, 3-1, in set scores of 26-24, 25-18, 15-25, 25-20 after falling in three sets to Carthage College by scores of 25-12, 25-21, 25-13. Aurora University and Carthage College both participated in last year's NCAA Division III Championship.

The Titans' victory over Aurora University snapped the Spartans' 21-match home winning streak. UW-Oshkosh has won each of its four meetings with the Spartans since 1995. Aurora University, winner of 38 of its last 44 home matches, had last suffered a home setback – a 3-0 decision against Concordia University Wisconsin – on Sept. 30, 2016.

Elstner registered 25 kills on the day while Samantha Jaeke added 19 terminations and Renee Rush chipped in 18.

Elstner, who now has 1,012 career kills, recorded her second double-double of the year and the 23rd of her career during the nightcap. She became the first Titan to eclipse 1,000 kills since Katelyn Malcheski amassed 1,535 from 2012-15.

Rachel Gardner led the Titans with 39 total digs in the two matches, including 27 in the win over Aurora University.

Emma Kiekhofer and Rebecca Doughty amassed 37 and 33 assists, respectively, while splitting setting duties for the Titans. UW-Oshkosh's Carly Lemke compiled 11 total kills and a team-leading five blocks.

In the triumph over Aurora University, the Titans owned advantages of 58-51 in kills, 54-51 in assists and .250 to .205 in hitting percentage. Both teams recorded eight blocks, and the Spartans held a 70-64 edge in digs.

UW-Oshkosh matched its season best with 18 kills on .275 hitting during the opening set in which the Titans fended off three straight set-points en route to scoring the final five points of the frame. The Titan comeback was sparked by consecutive kills from Jaeke and Rush before a Spartan error knotted the score at 24. UW-Oshkosh notched the last two points on a double-block from Lemke and Coron, and a service ace by Doughty. Rush collected six kills on six errorless attempts during the opening set.

The Titans tallied four of the first five points of the second frame and never trailed on the way to cruising toward a two-set advantage. An 8-2 scoring run extended the UW-Oshkosh cushion to 16-9 following an Elstner kill. A termination from Lemke gave the Titans a 23-15 lead, and Jaeke concluded the set with a kill five points later.

Aurora University (7-5) bounced back with a comfortable Set 3 win on the strength of 16 kills and a .382 attack percentage. The Titans pulled within 19-14 after a kill by Rush, but the Spartans scored six of the last seven points of the set.

The fourth frame was tied on six occasions, including for the last time at 13, when UW-Oshkosh reclaimed a lead it would not relinquish on a kill by Rush that followed four tremendous digs from Gardner during the long rally that featured 35 contacts. A kill and a solo block by Taylor Allen on consecutive points later provided the Titans a 21-16 advantage. After the Spartans spoiled two match-points, Jaeke clinched the win with a booming kill.

Rush concluded the match with 13 kills on .400 hitting. Jaeke added 12 terminations and three blocks while Doughty and Kiekhofer both dished out 23 assists.

Aurora University's Katie Vondra led all players with 20 kills to go along with 11 digs.

Emily Lines had 47 assists and a team-high 21 digs for the Spartans, who also received 11 kills from Carli Chambers, and four blocks apiece from Lindsey Simpson and Samantha Weising.

During the setback to Carthage College, the Lady Reds had a 34-31 edge in kills but outhit the Titans, .269 to .091 and registered 12 service aces.

Carthage College's Shannon Kebisek recorded 16 kills on 35 errorless attempts. Lady Reds setter Ellie LeCount compiled 26 assists, 10 digs and seven service aces while Laura De Rosales had a match-best 13 digs.

Elstner and Jaeke paced UW-Oshkosh with seven kills apiece.

Kiekhofer had a team-leading 14 assists, Doughty added 10 assists and Gardner registered 12 digs for her 14th double-digit dig effort of the year.

The Lady Reds (10-7) led the entire first and third sets but had to come from behind to take the second frame, regaining a 21-20 edge following a service ace. Rush recorded a kill to cut the Titan deficit to 22-21 before Carthage College finished the second set with three consecutive points.

UW-Oshkosh has won 10 of its last 17 meetings with Carthage College.

Elstner and Gardner were both tabbed to the six-member All-Tournament Team at Aurora University's Jim Coleman Memorial Classic. Elstner produced 38 kills and 31 digs in the Titans' three matches over the weekend while Gardner had 66 digs and 10 assists. UW-Oshkosh opened the tournament with a 3-1 victory over Ripon College on Friday (Sept. 21).

The Titans return to WIAC action when they travel to UW-Whitewater on Wednesday (Sept. 26).