CLEVELAND, Ohio (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - The Green Bay volleyball team's 2012 season came to an end on Friday evening as the fifth-seeded Phoenix fell 3-0 to fourth-seeded Loyola at Woodling Gymnasium in the quarterfinal round of the Horizon League Championship. The Ramblers improved to 17-11 with the 25-21, 26-24, 25-17 win, while the Phoenix finished one game above .500 at 15-14.
"This is a tough one," Green Bay head coach Debbie Kirch said. "We know we are a better team than we showed today, we just didn't react well to the tournament atmosphere. Take nothing away from Loyola, they played really well, we just weren't the same team we have been during the second half of league play."
The Phoenix had no answer for Loyola's Laura Purcell, who finished with a match-high 15 kills, hitting .520. Brittany Brown also reached double-figures for the Ramblers with 10 kills, while Lyndsay Zabkowicz (Oak Creek, Wis.) had 10 of her own to lead Green Bay.
Senior Carmen Leitermann (Schofield, Wis.) had five kills in her final collegiate contest, giving her an even 1,000 for her career. She is just the fourth player in Green Bay history to reach the 1,000-kill plateau. Leitermann also ends her career as Green Bay's all-time leader in solo blocks with 102.
Friday also marked the final matches in the careers of seniors Brittany Groth (Oak Creek, Wis.) and Haley Oelke (Mosinee, Wis.). Groth leaves Green Bay as the school's all-time leader in digs with 1,851 after recording a team-high 15 against the Ramblers. In addition, her 680 digs and 6.24 digs per set this year are both single-season school records.
Loyola grabbed the 1-0 lead by pulling away down the stretch in the opener. The Ramblers led by as many as six (11-5) in the early going, but the Phoenix battled back and had the score tied at 20-20 after a kill by Leah Poel (Jenison, Mich.). The Ramblers regained control with a 4-0 run, however, giving them a set-point chance at 24-20, and a kill by Purcell closed it at 25-21.
The Phoenix jumped out to a 6-2 advantage early in the second, only to see the Ramblers rally to pull ahead 10-9. The two teams kept it close throughout, as a pair of Green Bay kills tied the score at 20-20, and two more by Monica Anderson (Cottage Grove, Wis.) and Katie Mroczenski (New Berlin, Wis.) knotted it again at 24-24. Brown found the floor to give the Ramblers a set-point opportunity (25-24), and a Phoenix error sent Loyola to the break with a 2-0 lead.
Set three was all Loyola early, as the No. 4 seed surged out to a 10-1 lead. The Phoenix made a strong comeback attempt, cutting it to four (19-15), but the Ramblers pulled away for the 25-17 win and the 3-0 sweep.
Loyola out-hit the Phoenix .283 to .157 in the contest, finishing with a 48-34 edge in kills and an 8-3 advantage in total blocks. The Ramblers advance to Saturday's semifinal round, where they will play either No. 1 Cleveland State or No. 2 UIC.
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