Panthers Start Stretch Run At Valparaiso
Oct. 22, 2007
Match #24 @ Valparaiso (16-7, 6-4) Fri. Oct. 26 7 pm
Week 10 Storyline
The match is actually the first of four-straight on the road for the Panthers, who wrap up the regular season with contests at Green Bay, Wright State and Butler. UWM then returns home to host the 2007 Horizon League Tournament.
Milwaukee starts the week one match ahead of Cleveland State in the race for the Horizon League regular season title. The Panthers beat the Vikings in five games Friday night to jump ahead in the chase for the championship, and each team now has four matches remaining.
UWM also has a seven-match winning streak after posting a 14-match streak earlier this season.
The Week Ahead
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee women's volleyball team begins the stretch drive of the 2007 regular season with a Friday night contest at Valparaiso.
On The Road Again
After wrapping up a seven-match homestand, the Panthers will wrap up the regular season with four-straight road contests. The road has been a pretty pleasant place for the Panthers all in all, with UWM posting a 4-2 record in road matches this season. The Panthers also have won nine of their last 10 league road contests. If you include neutral-site matches, UWM is 9-2 away from Milwaukee this season.
Outstanding In October
The month of October is nearly complete, and one again Milwaukee volleyball has experienced a great deal of success in the month. In fact, the Panthers are 91-7 in the month over the last 10-plus seasons and have won 44 of their last 46 matches in the month.
Friday's win over Cleveland State pushed the Panthers past the 20-win mark for the season. It is the 10th time in the last 11 seasons the Panthers have reached the 20-win plateau. Plus, the only time in the last 11 seasons UWM didn't win 20 matches, it won 19. UWM has averaged more than 22 wins per season since 1997 and has won 25 matches three times. Next in UWM's sights is the school record for wins. The Panthers have reached 25 wins four times.
Breaking Down The League
There are now just three weeks left in the Horizon League regular season, and it is looking like the race between the Panthers and Cleveland State will go down to the wire. While UWM finishes with four road matches, CSU plays road contests at Loyola and UIC this weekend before hosting Valparaiso and Youngstown State. Valpo and Wright State also remain alive in the chase for the league title, though each would have to win all of its remaining matches to claim even a share of the title. There is also a tight race for the fifth-through-ninth spots in the league standings, with the bottom five teams in the table all separated by no more than two matches.
Continuing The Tradition
Should UWM claim the regular season crown it was picked for in the preseason, it would be a fifth-straight league title for the Panthers. Milwaukee would become the first league school to accomplish that feat and would add to some remarkable league numbers. Since 1997, UWM is 127-15 in league play - easily the best mark among league teams. The Panthers have not finished below second place in the league or lost more than three league matches since 1996.
Close Even In A Loss
Not only has UWM won the last four Horizon League regular season titles, it has had a great chance to win every league match it has played in that stretch. This season's first league loss came in five games at Cleveland State, while last year the only Milwaukee loss came in four games at Loyola, and by just 11 total points in the three games it dropped. Two years ago, UWM won 12-straight league contests after starting 0-2. The two seasons before that, the Panthers were a combined six points away from running the table (18-16 vs. Loyola in 2003; 15-11 vs. Butler in 2004). Also, the Panthers have won 34 of their last 36 regular season league contests.
Checking Out The Crusaders
Valparaiso continues to experience some ups and downs in its first season in the Horizon League, but the Crusaders have done more than enough to be considered a contender for the postseason tournament crown. Angie Porche leads the team with 394 kills while Brittany Malicoat has 499 digs. The Crusaders have dropped four of their last seven matches.
Recapping The Week Past
What a week it was for the Panthers, who closed out their 2007 regular season home schedule with three thrilling victories. Wednesday against crosstown-rival Marquette, Milwaukee pulled out a tight third game and then rolled to a 15-5 lead in the fourth game to claim the win. The victory was UWM's seventh in its last nine meetings with Marquette and moved the Panthers to 3-0 this season against Big East teams. Then Friday night, with first place in the league on the line, UWM pulled out a five-game win over Cleveland State. Natalie Schmitting had the match-winning kill in the deciding frame, while Jamie Gabrielsen had 23 kills to lead the Panthers. Finally Saturday against Youngstown State, UWM overcame any signs of an emotional letdown by dominating game three and rallying to win game four. Leanne Felsing had another triple-double and Gabrielsen led the team with 24 kills.
Senior Leanne Felsing is making a strong pitch for Horizon League Player of the Year and All-America honors. She has 14 triple-doubles this season, winning Horizon League Offensive Player of the Week honors twice and College Volleyball Update National Player of the Week accolades three weeks ago. She has recorded three-straight triple-doubles four times this season - something no other player in school history has ever done - and her 21 career triple-doubles are by far the most of any player in school history. She is looking to become UWM's first two-time All-American since 1985 after earning honorable mention honors from the American Volleyball Coaches' Association a season ago. Meanwhile, Felsing moved past 1,000 career kills two weekends ago after surpassing 1,000 career digs and 100 career service aces earlier this year. She is the only player in UWM's history to go over 1,000 career kills, digs and assists and 100 aces.
Gabrielsen Doing It All
Senior Jamie Gabrielsen is having a strong final season as a Panther, and this past week surpassed 20 kills in all three UWM wins. She currently leads the Horizon League and stands among the top 50 nationally in kills per game. Aug. 25 against Syracuse, Gabrielsen led the Panthers with 31 kills. The 31 kills marked the most in Division I school history in a five-game match and are tied for the second-most in a match of any length in school history. Plus, it is just the fifth time in Division I school history that a player has collected 30 or more kills. On top of that, Gabrielsen added 20 digs to become one of just two Panthers to ever have 30 or more kills and 20 or more digs in the same match, with Laura Dallenbach having collected 30 kills and 27 digs vs. DePaul in 2000. She has been in double figures in kills in all but one match this season, and in that contest (vs. St. Francis Aug. 31) she played in only part of the first game before resting. She enters play Friday having collected 20 or more kills in four-straight matches.
Saluting All Of The Seniors
UWM's group of five seniors may have played their final regular-season home match Saturday afternoon, but they all know the most important part of the season remains. As a group, Leanne Felsing, Jamie Gabrielsen, Kelley Olson, Nicole Vilter and Breit Nelson have compiled an 84-25 record in their three-plus seasons in Milwaukee. Plus, they have lost just five league regular season matches. The seniors each have three regular season league titles to their credit, as well as one tournament title and NCAA berth.
Doing It With Defense
Milwaukee's defensive play has been a constant throughout the 2007 season, and the Panthers made their mark defensively over the three wins this past week. Friday against Cleveland State, UWM tallied 12 blocks, the eighth time this season the Panthers reached double figures in blocks. Plus, Lauren Felsing set a collegiate-best with 27 digs. Then Saturday, five players reached double figures in digs, with UWM tallying 81 digs in the four-game win. On the season, UWM continues to lead the league in digs while ranking in the top 10 nationally in the category.
Monsters In The Middle
Freshmen middle blockers Maddie Sueppel and Natalie Schmitting have played a key role in the success of the Panthers this season. Sueppel earned Horizon League Offensive Player of the Week honors earlier this season and had 14 kills and five blocks in the win over Cleveland State Friday. In fact, Sueppel has 32 blocks in her last five outings. Meanwhile, Schmitting leads the Panthers in blocks and earned league defensive player of the week honors earlier this season. Sept. 22 against Wright State, Schmitting set collegiate bests for kills (19) and hitting percentage (.760). The attack percentage is the fourth-best in a three-game match in UWM's Division I history.
Plenty Of Peters
Junior Becky Peters built her reputation as a libero but now is showing off her all-around game. She started at outside hitter for the first time Sept. 7 and has not been moved out of that starting spot since. In the process, she has tallied four double-doubles and earned MVP honors of the Panther Invitational. She has also kept up her stellar defensive work, earning League Defensive Player of the Week twice already this season. In fact, Peters has moved up to second all-time on UWM's career digs list with 1,369, becoming one of just two players in UWM history to collect at least 1,300 digs.
Talking About Winning
UWM did see its 14-match winning streak snapped in the loss to Cleveland State Sept. 29, but the streak will still go in the record books. It is the second-longest streak in Division I school history, with only last season's 15-match streak ahead on the list. Plus, UWM is now in the midst of another seven-match winning streak. Milwaukee has now had a winning streak of at least seven matches in each of the last 11 seasons and a streak of at least 10-straight in each of the last five seasons.
Happy At Home
UWM has wrapped up its regular-season home schedule with a pair of impressive winning streaks in tact. The Panthers have won 20-straight matches at home overall and 29-straight regular season league matches at the Klotsche Center. In all, UWM has won 117 of its last 129 home matches and no league team outside of Loyola or Green Bay has beaten UWM in Milwaukee since 1996.
Cleaning Out The 2007 Notebook
Kelley Olson set a collegiate-high with 11 kills off the bench Sept. 29 at Cleveland State ... UWM has had a total of eight players honored by the league this season, with Jame Gabrielsen earning offensive honors last week. Leanne Felsing has earned League Offensive Player of the Week twice with Maddie Sueppel also winning the award. Becky Peters has won the defensive award twice while Natalie Schmitting and Lauren Felsing have all been honored ... Leanne Felsing and Jamie Gabrielsen were named to the all-tournament team at the InnTowner Invitational the first weekend of the season, while Maddie Sueppel claimed all-tourney honors at the Western New York Invite. Then, at the Panther Invitational, Becky Peters was named MVP and was joined on the all-tournament team by Natalie Schmitting and Lauren Felsing ... UWM's best statistical defensive effort came Aug. 25 against Syracuse, when the Panthers collected 114 digs in the five-game win, the most since UWM had 115 in the league tournament title match against Green Bay in 2003. And, Milwaukee had four players collect 20 or more digs in that contest, a first for the Panthers a Division I match.
Host With The Most
UWM will host the 2007 Horizon League Women's Volleyball Championship at the Klotsche Center. The tournament runs Nov. 15-18, with the winner receiving an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. Tournament play opens Thurs., Nov. 15, with a first round match before continuing Friday with four quarterfinals. The semifinals are Saturday with the championship match set for noon Sunday.
The Panthers have another quiet week, with only a Friday (Nov. 2) contest at Green Bay on the schedule.