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Late Fifth-Set Run Gives Blue Devils Win Over Titans

Renee Rush had seven kills, three digs and one solo block against UW-Stout.
Renee Rush had seven kills, three digs and one solo block against UW-Stout.

The UW-Stout women's volleyball team overcame a 14-11 deficit in the fifth set to pull out an unlikely 3-2 victory over UW-Oshkosh during the regular season finale for both teams Saturday (Oct. 27) in Menomonie.

UW-Oshkosh reached match-point at 14-11 following a kill by Shelby Coron, but the Blue Devils scored the final five points of the contest on a pair of kills by Lexie Nelson, two attack errors by the Titans and a kill from Kennedy Strain that ended the match.

UW-Stout (16-12, 4-3 WIAC) defeated the Titans in set scores of 17-25, 25-21, 19-25, 25-15, 16-14. The win was the Blue Devils' first over UW-Oshkosh in the five matches since a 3-0 decision Oct. 11, 2014, in Oshkosh.

The Blue Devils earned the fourth seed at the WIAC Championship that begins with first round matches Tuesday (Oct. 30). Sixth-seeded UW-Oshkosh (16-14, 2-5 WIAC) opens league tournament play at third-seeded UW-La Crosse (16-12, 4-3) on Tuesday. UW-La Crosse beat the Titans, 3-0, on Sept. 19 in La Crosse.

UW-Stout's Amber Ripley led all player with 15 kills to go along with 15 digs Saturday.

Strain added 11 kills and six blocks for the Blue Devils, who also received a match-high 44 assists from Jessica DuVal and 27 digs from Steph Cannon.

UW-Stout concluded the match with slim advantages in kills (56-51), hitting percentage (.133 to .089), assists (54-48) and blocks (9-8). The Titans held edges in service aces (7-3) and digs (93-88).

Tina Elstner paced the Titans with 13 kills while Samantha Jaeke contributed 10 terminations. Elstner also had 16 digs to notch her third double-double of the season and 24th of her career.

Taylor Allen chipped in eight kills and a team-leading five blocks for UW-Oshkosh while Titans Emma Kiekhofer and Rebecca Doughty dished out 21 and 14 assists, respectively. Kiekhofer collected 11 digs for her second double-double of the year, and Douhgty tied Elstner for the team lead with two service aces.

Rachel Gardner led UW-Oshkosh with 26 digs while Becky Brezen added 14 digs.

UW-Oshkosh scored four of the first five points of the match and never trailed during the first set. The Titans tallied five unanswered points, including three in a row on kills by Elstner, to extend their lead to 17-9. The Blue Devils closed to within 20-17, but UW-Oshkosh scored the final five points of the frame on a pair of service aces by Doughty, a kill by Jaeke, a double-block from Shelby Coron and Carly Lemke, and a UW-Stout attack error on set-point.

The second set was tied on six occasions until UW-Stout reclaimed the lead for good at 13-12 on a Titan attack error. Clinging to a 17-16 advantage, scored five of the following six points to lead by five at 22-17. The Blue Devils, who registered 17 kills during the frame, reached set-point at 24-20 and capped the set two points later on a kill by Strain.

UW-Oshkosh raced out to a 6-1 advantage in the third set before expanding its lead to 20-14 behind an 8-2 scoring run that featured three Elstner kills, terminations from Lemke and Kendall Enyart, a Lemke service ace, and a combinations block by Allen and Jaeke. UW-Stout pulled within 22-19, but UW-Oshkosh closed out the set with the final three points, including two on kills from Renee Rush.

UW-Stout took a 3-2 advantages it would not relinquish in the fourth set, building leads of 18-11 and 23-14 before Emily Bialka ended the frame with a kill two points later.

UW-Oshkosh made the fifth-set side change with an 8-5 lead after a kill by Allen and a Blue Devil attack error. UW-Stout rallied to tie the score at 10 following back-to-back kills from Ripley and Bialka, but the Titans responded with four of the next five points to set up match-point at 14-11. The 4-1 spurt was highlighted by a pair of Elstner kills and a termination by Coron.

The Titans, who have claimed four WIAC Championship titles, are seeking to win their first match at UW-La Crosse since 2014. UW-La Crosse has ousted UW-Oshkosh from three of the past five WIAC Championships, including semifinal round eliminations the past two seasons in La Crosse.

Photo courtesy of Layne Pitt, UW-Stout Sports Information