By: Ryan Hartwig (@RyanHartwig)
AUBURN, Ala. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – Led by senior Leah Van Zeeland’s (Kaukauna, Wis.) career-high 20 kills, the Green Bay volleyball team (2-2) opened the Auburn Active Ankle Challenge on Thursday afternoon with a come-from-behind 3-1 victory over Troy (2-3) at the Student Activities Center.
The Phoenix started slow, dropping the first set to the Trojans 25-20, but was able to rally for 31-29, 25-23 and 25-19 victories in the next three games to win its second consecutive match.
“I have to tip my hat to Troy,” Phoenix head coach Michaela Franklin said following the win. “They came out with an energy level that I don’t think we were ready for and really got after us early. I was proud of the way we were able to dig deep when we were pressed, turn the corner and come out on top in the end.”
Van Zeeland also tallied 15 digs and four blocks in the match, notching her second straight double-double. Sixteen of Van Zeeland’s 20 kills came in the final three sets.
After falling in the opener, Green Bay was able to shift the momentum by winning the exciting second set 31-29 – a set in which the Phoenix fought off four set-point chances by the Trojans.
The Phoenix trailed 21-17 late, but kills by Van Zeeland and classmate Monica Anderson (Cottage Grove, Wis.) helped even the score at 21 all. A double-block by Van Zeeland and sophomore Mikaela Gunderson (Casco, Wis.) gave the Phoenix its first set-point chance at 24-23, but Troy rebounded and grabbed a 26-25 advantage.
The Trojans had three more chances to go up 2-0 (27-26, 28-27 and 29-28), but the resilient Phoenix responded each time and scored the final three points – which included a kill and a block by Van Zeeland – to even the match at 1-1.
Green Bay trailed 15-10 midway through the third set, but a 10-1 run that included three kills by Anderson put the Phoenix ahead 20-16. The Trojans clawed their way back to tie the score at 23-23, but a Van Zeeland kill followed by a Troy miscue gave the Phoenix the 25-23 win and the 2-1 lead.
Green Bay controlled the fourth set, jumping out to a 10-5 lead, extending it to 20-12 and eventually winning 25-19. Anderson and Van Zeeland were dominant in the match-clinching win, as Anderson had seven of her season-high 13 kills in the set and Van Zeeland had five kills on five swings.
Gunderson joined her two senior teammates in double-figures with a career-high 14 kills, while sophomore Taylor Kasal (Westmont, Ill.) had a near double-double with nine kills and 13 digs. Sophomore setter Emily Riese (Fond du Lac, Wis.) had a strong contest with a season and match-high 55 assists.
Green Bay had five players with at least 10 digs and recorded its highest hitting percentage of the young season, out-hitting Troy .246 to .216.
The Phoenix is back in action tonight at the Auburn Active Ankle Challenge at 7 p.m. against the host Auburn Tigers (4-0). Live stats and pay-per-view live video are available for the match.
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