Balanced Offense Leads Panthers Past Oakland In League Opener
Sept. 27, 2013
MILWAUKEE - Myanna Ruiz had 15 kills to lead five Panthers in double figures as the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee captured a 25-21, 25-12, 27-29, 25-17 win over Oakland Friday night at the Klotsche Center.
The Panthers (5-8, 1-0 Horizon) actually controlled much of the match but let the third set slip away before regaining control to pull away in the fourth.
Rachel Neuberger and Julie Kolinske added 13 kills apiece while Nicole Latzig and Hannah Blanchard had 10 apiece. Milwaukee wound up with 67 kills to just 45 for Oakland, outhitting the Golden Grizzlies .233-.119.
UWM also posted another strong defensive effort, led by Taylor Golabowski's 23 digs and Neuberger's six blocks.
The match marked the Horizon League opener for both team and was Oakland's first-ever league contest after moving from the Summit League this summer.
Taylor Humm led Oakland (6-9, 0-1) with 14 kills.
"We started off pretty strong in sets one and two," Milwaukee head coach Susie Johnson said. "Their block got a lot better and we had to adjust, so it was very hard for us in set three and they snuck out of that one. But then we were able to adjust our swings against their block."
Milwaukee's offense was as balanced as it has been all season. Not only did five players reach double figures in kills, but the chances amongst those hitter were well-distributed.
"Kayla (Price) had an excellent match and we've been talking a lot about set distribution and what to do and when to do it," Johnson said. "She's really doing well with that and we were able to get everyone involved."
The Panthers got off on the right foot with a convincing win in the first set. Milwaukee broke an 8-all tie with eight of the next 10 points to claim a 16-10 advantage. The lead eventually grew to 19-12 on an Oakland error and the Panthers went up 24-16 following kills from Blanchard and Sammi Herron. Oakland scored five in a row to get closer but a kill from Ruiz finished things off.
Milwaukee dominated the second set. UWM trailed 7-5 in the early going before rattling off 14-straight points. The run included four kills from Ruiz and a pair of service aces from Blanchard. Milwaukee's lead was 20-8 after a Neuberger kill and 23-11 following a kill by Ruiz. An Oakland error eventually finished things off.
The Panthers fell behind by as many as four points early in the third set before rallying to claim a 16-15 lead on a kill by Neuberger. Milwaukee then fell behind again but fought off three set-points to tie the frame at 24. UWM then had match-point three times, but each time Oakland countered. Finally, a Milwaukee hitting error followed by a block from Ciara Schultz and Brooke Wadsworth kept the Grizzlies alive in the match.
UWM then restored order in the fourth set. Milwaukee too the lead for good at 14-13 on a block by Neuberger and Kayla Price and turned that into a seven-point run. The burst included a pair of kills from Latzig and an ace by Golabowski, pushing the Panthers up 20-13. The lead hit 24-15 on a Blanchard kill before a kill from Ruiz clinched the win for Milwaukee.
The Panthers wrap up their weekend homestand when Wright State visits the Klotsche Center Saturday at 4 p.m.