GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - Senior Abbey Gitter (Hortonville, Wis.) had a team-high 16 kills and Green Bay (8-13, 4-5 HL) raced out to a 2-0 lead Saturday afternoon at the Kress Center, but visiting Milwaukee (17-4, 10-0 HL) rallied for a five-set win (17-25, 16-25, 25-11, 25-22, 15-12) in Horizon League volleyball action.
Looking to hand the Panthers their first conference loss of the season, Green Bay used a 10-3 spurt midway through the opening set to take control and never looked back. The Phoenix had 16 kills and just six errors, including a combined 11 kills and zero errors from Gitter and fellow senior Kelly Mischler (Kaukauna, Wis.).
The Phoenix trailed 10-7 in the second set before taking 10 of the next 11 points, including seven on the serve of junior Brittany Groth (Oak Creek, Wis.), to move ahead 17-11. Two kills from sophomore Lyndsay Zabkowicz (Oak Creek, Wis.) were part of a 5-0 spurt to end the set as the hosts took a 2-0 lead into intermission.
Groth, the Horizon League's leader in digs per set, had just one in the opening set but finished with a match-high 26. Zabkowicz, who had 17 kills in the first meeting between the two squads, had 15 kills on Saturday.
Milwaukee cruised to the third set win, but Green Bay came back and looked poised to win the match in the fourth. Zabkowicz had five kills early as the Phoenix built a 14-8 lead, and a kill from senior Carlie Willison (Greenfield, Wis.) moments later had Green Bay in front 17-12. Milwaukee chipped away from there, and the Panthers finally took the lead 21-20. Kerri Schuh had a kill to end the set, 25-22. Schuh finished with a match-high 20 kills and tallied just three errors.
The decisive fifth set was back and forth before a 5-1 run by the Phoenix gave it a 9-7 advantage. The Panthers then took six of the next seven points to reclaim a lead they would never relinquish.
Gitter had her 16 kills with only two errors in hitting .400 for Green Bay. Sophomore Leah Poel (Jenison, Mich.) directed the offense with 44 assists and added 14 digs for a double-double.
Defensively, Mischler totaled six blocks while Haley Oelke (Mosinee, Wis.) and Sabrina Marunowski (Milwaukee, Wis.) gave the Phoenix four players in double figures in digs with 12 and 11, respectively.Green Bay returns to action on Friday, playing at UIC in Chicago at 7 p.m. The Phoenix is 2-0 this season in the Windy City, downing both Chicago State and Loyola.