Panthers Drop Five-Set Heartbreaker To Western Michigan
Aug. 31, 2012
MILWAUKEE - Julie Kolinske had 22 kills and Rachel Neuberger added 21 but the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee could not hold off a surging Western Michigan side Friday night, falling 25-27, 21-25, 25-23, 25-20, 15-12 in the final match on day one of the Panther Invitational.
The contest between two NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago featured 62 ties, with neither squad ever able to take control of the match. UWM (2-3) battled to pull out each of the first two frames before Western Michigan (3-2) steadily improved its offense to close out the match by winning the final three sets.
"We came out really strong and we made Western Michigan figure us out," Milwaukee head coach Susie Johnson said. "There were just a handful of points that really could have gone either way and didn't go our way and that was the match."
Ali Gossen and Gillian Asque collected 15 kills apiece for the Broncos (3-2), who had 19 hitting errors in the first two sets but then just 13 over the final three frames.
Milwaukee more than held its own, though, behind the offensive leadership from Kolinske and Neuberger along with a balanced defensive effort. Anna Bartz led the back-row efforts with 24 digs, while freshman Sammi Herron had 17 and fellow freshman Maisey Mulvey added 16. UWM also got its blocking on track in the contest, collecting 11 total, including seven by Neuberger.
The deciding fifth set was tight, with the two teams tied eight times. The Broncos went ahead for good at 10-9 on a block by Stephenee Yancy and Carlee Berland and eventually led 13-10. Milwaukee was able to trim the lead to 13-11 and again to 14-12, but a kill by Jessica Brown finished off the match.
"The reality is that's a really great team. I know this is a learning process," Johnson said. "We improved. We were playing point-to-point with that team. In the end we didn't come through but it's very, very much a learning process and we're still forming our team."
The Panthers pulled out a tight win in a first set that included 15 ties. Milwaukee trailed 13-10 midway through the frame and still found itself down 19-17 after a kill by Asque. UWM then had to fight out of a 23-21 hole but did so, with a kill by Kolinske and two Western Michigan errors pushing the Panthers to set point. WMU successfully fought that off and again evened things at 25, but a kill by Herron followed by a block from Herron and Neuberger pushed the Panthers ahead in the match.
UWM had a bit more control in the second set, building a 16-12 lead on a block by Neuberger and Kolinske. The Broncos fought back to tie things at 19 but Milwaukee took the lead for good at 21-20 on a kill by Neuberger. The advantage grew to 23-20 on a WMU error and UWM then finished things off behind a kill by Neuberger and a Bronco hitting error.
Western Michigan had plenty of answers after that. The Broncos pulled out a very tight third set. In fact, UWM built a 15-13 lead on a kill by Kolinske and then went back up 22-20 on a block by Kayla Price and Neuberger. But WMU fought back, grabbing a 24-23 lead on a kill by Gossen before an Asque kill officially kept the Broncos alive.
The Broncos pulled away late in the fourth set to even the match. UWM did grab a 17-16 lead on a Kolinske kill and went back up 18-17 on a solo block by Price. But the Broncos scored the next four points to take some control of the contest and then finished the frame with three-straight points for a 25-20 win.
In the first match of the evening session, SEMO rolled to a three-set win over East Carolina behind 14 kills from Brittney Kalinoski.
The Panther Invitational continues with four more matches Saturday. The first match is at 11 a.m. Milwaukee plays twice, facing SEMO at 1:30 and East Carolina at 7.