LA CROSSE, Wis. – The Viterbo University volleyball team beat the visiting Wolverine Hoosier Athletic Conference representative, Davenport University Panthers, in three straight sets (25-22, 25-23, 25-12) Saturday evening at the Varsity Athletic Complex in the opening round of the 2012 National Championship.
Stacie Hoffman (Sr. – Meqoun, Wis.) broke the all-time school record for career assists (Micaela Bjerke – 2,960 in 2008) by accumulating 33 helpers in the match, bringing her career total to 2,974. She also was third on the team in kills with six. Alicia Olson (So. – Eau Claire, Wis.), the MCC Player of the Year, led the V-Hawks offense with 15 kills (.353 hitting percentage). The MCC Libero of the year, Jordan Blaken (Sr. – Melrose, Wis.), was a rock in defense with 19 of the team's 67 digs and no receiving errors.
In the first set, Viterbo jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead through two kills by Olson. The team would later advance the margin to 12-6 through three kills, including one of eleven on the night from Katie Flock (Sr. – Sparta, Wis.). Davenport would trim the advantage to two points at 18-16, but the V-Hawks would maintain at least a two-point advantage until the game-winning kill by Olson gave the home side the first set, 25-22.
The Panthers wouldn't go quietly, jumping out to a 9-5 lead in game two. However, Viterbo scored six straight points on Brianna Brinkman's (So. – St. Charles, Minn.) service through two more kills by Olson and one kill by Hannah Ripp (Sr. – Merrillan, Wis.). The rest of the game was a see-saw battle, with neither team able to put together more than a three-point run. Mandi Baumeister (Jr. – Burlington, Wis.) led the V-Hawks to the finish line in the second set by serving the last three points, with an assisted block by Kassie McGettigan (Sr. – La Crosse, Wis.) and Lynette Benson (Jr. – Forest Lake, Minn.) finishing the second frame, 25-23.
The third set was close until a ten-point run by Viterbo brought the score to 14-4. The team wouldn't relent and closed out the match by winning the third and final set, 25-12.
The second set was the only match that the Panthers held the advantage in hitting percentage, .138 to .137, but Viterbo dominated hitting percentage for the match (.218 to .085). The Panthers also committed seven service errors compared to only one for the V-Hawks.
Viterbo improves to 32-7 overall, while Davenport ends its season at 32-7. The V-Hawks will continue on their quest in the National Championship by advancing to pool play in Sioux City, Iowa, which begins November 27. The final site will include 24 teams, four teams in six pools, while each team is guaranteed three matches. The top two teams from each pool will advance to a single-elimination bracket to decide the 2012 National Champion. The pools will be announced Sunday, November 18.
To learn more about the 2012 NAIA Volleyball National Tournament click here.