CHICAGO (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - After falling behind two sets to none, the Green Bay volleyball team came all the way back to earn a 3-2 road victory Wednesday night against DePaul at McGrath-Phillips Arena in Chicago. Senior Carmen Leitermann (Schofield, Wis.) led the Phoenix with 15 kills as her team opened its four-match road trip with a 22-25, 21-25, 25-23, 25-18, 15-13 win.
The Phoenix improves to 9-6 (1-1 Horizon League) on the year and has now won eight of its last 11 matches, including six of its last seven. The Blue Demons dropped their fourth straight contest, falling to 5-10 (0-2 BIG EAST).
Wednesday marked the second time the Phoenix has won after trailing 0-2 this year, as Debbie Kirch's squad completed a similar comeback on Sept. 8 against Bradley in the South Dakota State Jackrabbit Invitational.
"Obviously we need to continue to work on getting off to quicker starts, but I have been really impressed with our ability to come back and win these five-set matches, especially on the road," Kirch said.
After dropping sets one and two, Green Bay turned things around in the third with a hard-fought 25-23 win. The Phoenix trailed 8-5 in the early going, but a run capped off by back-to-back kills by Monica Anderson (Cottage Grove, Wis.) gave the Phoenix its largest lead at 18-14.
Green Bay maintained its advantage (23-19) following a kill by Leitermann, and a kill by Leah Poel (Jenison, Mich.) gave the Phoenix a set point chance at 24-21. The Blue Demons notched two straight points, threatening to come back and complete the sweep, but the Phoenix forced an attack error to earn the 25-23 win and force a fourth set.
Following a tight start in the fourth, Green Bay pulled away down the stretch for a 25-18 win, out-hitting the Blue Demons .333 to .081. Leading 11-10, a Leitermann kill sparked a 9-2 Phoenix run that gave the visitors a 20-12 advantage. A Leah Van Zeeland (Kaukauna, Wis.) kill followed by a DePaul error pushed the score to 24-16, and a double block by Leitermann and Poel ended it moments later at 25-18, sending the match to the deciding fifth set.
Green Bay jumped out to a 6-4 lead in the fifth after a kill by Leitermann, forcing a DePaul timeout. The Blue Demons fought back to knot the score at 9-9, but the Phoenix scored the next three points to make it 12-9 and force a second timeout by the home team. Another Leitermann kill gave the Phoenix a match point opportunity at 14-11, and the senior's team-high 15th kill ended the set and the match at 15-13.
Leitermann, who had four kills in the fifth, hit .350 for the match, committing just one error in 40 swings. The senior also had a strong night on the defensive end, tallying seven blocks and seven digs.
Three more Phoenix players reached double-digit kill totals, as Anderson had 13 and Van Zeeland and Lyndsay Zabkowicz (Oak Creek, Wis.) had 12 apiece. DePaul's Rachel Aumann registered a match-high 20 kills, hitting .357.
Brittany Groth (Oak Creek, Wis.), the reigning Horizon League Defensive Player of the Week, led all players with 38 digs, pushing her season digs per set total to a league-best 6.1. The senior now has 1,531 digs for her career, passing former Phoenix standout and current assistant coach Sarah Rauen (1,519) for second place on the school's all-time list. Groth needs 259 more to surpass Megan Elfering (1,789 from 2005-08) as the school's career leader.
Poel also had a solid all-around match for the Phoenix, guiding the offense with 45 assists while contributing 15 digs, six blocks and four kills.
The Phoenix returns to Horizon League action on Friday when it travels downstate to face Milwaukee at 7 p.m. the Klotsche Center.
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