By: Ryan Hartwig (@RyanHartwig)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - Finishing with a hard-fought battle against
tournament champion Auburn, the Green Bay volleyball squad wrapped up its
participation in the season-opening Green Bay/Country Inn & Suites
Tournament on Saturday with a pair of tough losses at the Kress Center. The
Phoenix was swept by Central Michigan (25-20, 27-25, 25-14) in its afternoon
match before falling 3-0 to the Tigers (32-30, 28-26, 25-21) in the entertaining
Green Bay finished 1-2 on
the weekend, defeating
Drake 3-0 in the opener on Friday. Auburn, paced by tournament MVP Camila
Jersonsky, took all three matches to earn the title. Joining Jersonsky on the
all-tournament team were Auburn's Sarah Wroblicky and Sarah Bullock, Central
Michigan's Lindsey Dulude and Jenna Coates, Green Bay's Carmen Leitermann and Drake's Cassie Effken.
Leitermann finished the
tournament with 31 kills in nine sets to lead the Phoenix, hitting .475 from
the middle. Brittany Groth (Oak
Creek, Wis.) also turned in an impressive tournament performance, registering
72 digs, including a school-record 29 Saturday night against Auburn.
Auburn 3, Green Bay 0
Although the scoreboard
read 3-0 in favor of the Tigers, the final match of the Green Bay/Country Inn
& Suites Tournament certainly felt like it could have gone either way. The
Phoenix held sizable leads in each of the first two sets, both of which needed
extra points to be decided.
"It's not often that you
go in the locker room following a 3-0 loss and say 'that was a great volleyball
match,'" Phoenix head coach Debbie Kirch
said. "It was frustrating because I thought we had good leads in both sets one
and two and we couldn't hold on to them. Overall we fought for every last point
and played incredible defense and just did whatever we could do to bring the
Leading the Phoenix
defense was Groth, whose 29 digs broke the team record for a three-set match.
Groth tied the previous record of 26 in 2010, which she held with former
Phoenix standout and current assistant coach Sarah Rauen (2005).
Green Bay jumped out to a
12-5 lead in set one, but Auburn fought back to even the score at 21-21. Consecutive
kills gave the Tigers a 23-21 advantage, but the Phoenix responded with a kill
from Katie Mroczenski (New Berlin,
Wis.) followed by a block to knot things back up at 23-23.
The Tigers had their first
set point opportunity leading 24-23 when Lyndsay Zabkowicz (Oak Creek, Wis.) drove home a kill to once again even the score.
Green Bay pulled ahead on three different occasions over the next five points,
but Auburn answered each time. All square at 27-27, the two teams traded points
until it was 30-30. A kill by Auburn's Courtney McDonald put the Tigers back in
front, and a block ended the thrilling first set 32-30.
The Phoenix started fast
again in set two as a Leitermann kill gave the home team a 12-7 advantage. Leading
21-15, Green Bay looked to be on its way to tying the match, but Auburn took six
of the next seven points to get it to within one (22-21).
Back-to-back kills gave the
Tigers their first set point chance at 24-23, but Mroczenski came through with
a big kill to keep the set alive. Mroczenski and Leitermann added clutch kills
moments later to deny Auburn two more set point opportunities, but the Tigers
eventually used consecutive kills from Sarah Bullock and Jersonsky to finish it
The relentless Phoenix
battled hard once again in set three, leading 15-14 after a kill by Leah Poel (Jenison, Mich.). Auburn
responded with a 6-0 run to take a 20-15 lead and eventually pulled away for
the 25-21 win to earn the sweep.
Leitermann had a team-high
13 kills in the contest, while Leah Van Zeeland (Kaukauna, Wis.) posted a double-double with 10 kills and 12 digs.
Poel also garnered a double-double, registering 31 assists and 11 digs.
Central Michigan 3, Green Bay 0
After dropping the opening
set the Phoenix was on the verge of tying the contest at one apiece after
taking a 25-24 lead in set two, but the Chippewas registered the final three
points to steal the set and change the complexion of the match.
Green Bay trailed 16-11 midway
through the second set when a Leitermann kill sparked a 6-0 run by the Phoenix,
giving the hosts a 17-16 advantage. The Chippewas responded to get it to set
point (24-22), but another Leitermann kill, an attack error by CMU and a Leah
Van Zeeland service ace made it 25-24 Phoenix.
The Chippewas called
timeout and came out of the break swinging, as Val DeWeerd picked up a kill to
knot the set at 25-25. CMU's Lindsey Dulude finished things off, getting
back-to-back kills off of assists from Kelly Maxwell.
"I think that loss in the
second set really took the wind out of our sails and it carried over into set
three," Kirch said. "That didn't happen in the Auburn match. We kept our heads
up and kept fighting and that made a big difference."
The Phoenix got out to an
early 6-4 lead in the opening set and was tied 16-16 later on, but a pair of
errors gave the visitors the lead for good as the Chippewas pulled away for the
A Mroczenski kill cut it
to 9-8 in favor of CMU to start the third set, but that's when the Chippewas
rattled off seven of the next eight points to go up 16-9. CMU pushed the lead
to double digits (21-11) and ultimately finished with a 25-14 win.
Zabkowicz led the Phoenix
in kills for the second straight match with seven, while Leitermann had another
solid performance, finishing with six kills and a .400 hitting percentage in
addition to five total blocks.
CMU was paced by Dulude,
who had a match-high 12 kills while hitting .429. Jenna Coates registered 26
digs to lead all players, while Maxwell had 35 assists.
After opening with three
at home, the Phoenix will play its next nine matches on the road, starting with
a trip to DeKalb, Ill., to face Northern Illinois next Tuesday. Green Bay then
returns to tournament action with trips to the North Dakota Classic (Aug.
31-Sept. 1), the South Dakota State Jackrabbit Invite (Sept. 7-8) and the
Davidson Wildcat Classic (Sept. 14-15). Green Bay's next home match is slated
for Sept. 21 when it opens Horizon League play against Cleveland State.
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