YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - Junior Brittany Groth (Oak Creek, Wis.) broke Green Bay's single-season digs record and fellow junior Carmen Leitermann (Schofield, Wis.) tallied 18 kills Friday to help the Phoenix (11-16, 7-8 HL) clinch a spot in the Horizon League Championship with a 3-1 win at Youngstown State.
Groth needed just two digs entering the match to put her name in the record books and finished with 22. Now with 598 digs on the season, the libero surpassed, who set the previous record of 577 in 2008.
The digs record was inevitable entering Friday night, but what was not a certainty was Green Bay's spot in the conference tourney. After two losses in a row, the Phoenix needed a win or a Wright State loss this weekend to make the postseason bracket.
The team fought off two Youngstown State set points in the opening set to pull out a 28-26 win. With the score knotted at 26, the Phoenix got a kill from senior Kelly Mischler (Kaukauna, Wis.) and a block from Leitermann and senior Abbey Gitter (Hortonville, Wis.) to end the set.
Green Bay pulled another close set to take a 2-0 lead heading to intermission. The Penguins rallied from four points down to lead 23-22 in the set, but back-to-back kills from Gitter sparked the victory.
The Penguins recovered and forced a fourth set by taking the third 25-20, but the Phoenix did not let the match get to a fifth. A five-point spurt in the fourth set put Green Bay in control, 15-10, and it closed the deal and clinched a berth with a 25-18 set win.
Leitermann tallied 18 kills and hit .368 to lead the Phoenix, while three other players - Gitter (13), Mischler (12) and senior Carlie Willison (10) - also reached double figures. Sophomore Leah Poel (Jenison, Mich.) had 44 assists directing the team's offense to a .218 hitting percentage.
Green Bay concludes the regular season Saturday at 3 p.m., playing at Cleveland State. The match will be shown on the Horizon League Network and will also have live stats. For links to keep up with the Phoenix, visit the volleyball schedule.
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