By: Ryan Hartwig (@RyanHartwig)
AUBURN, Ala. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – The Green Bay volleyball team (4-2) wrapped up the Auburn Active Ankle Challenge title on Friday evening with a dominant 3-0 sweep of Mercer (1-6) at the Student Activities Center on the Auburn University campus.
The Phoenix finished the tournament with a perfect 3-0 record, which included an impressive 3-2 win over Auburn on their home floor last night, and has now won four consecutive matches.
“I just think it was a fantastic week for our program,” first-year Green Bay head coach Michaela Franklin said. “It obviously feels good to go 3-0 and win the tournament, but what I’m most excited about and most proud of is that we’re becoming a team. We’re developing a really good culture and good environment here at Green Bay and I’m excited about the direction we’re going.”
Senior Leah Van Zeeland (Kaukauna, Wis.) was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, while senior Katie Mroczenski (New Berlin, Wis.) and sophomore Mikaela Gunderson (Casco, Wis.) also earned spots on the All-Tournament Team.
Van Zeeland registered a team-high 44 kills in the three tournament matches while also recording 34 digs and nine blocks. Mroczenski, the reigning Horizon League Defensive Player of the Week, was a consistent force at the net, posting 14 blocks and 13 kills, and Gunderson had three straight double-digit kill efforts (14 vs. Troy, 12 at Auburn, 14 vs. Mercer) to finish the event with 40.
Mercer challenged Green Bay in the opening set on Friday, but it was all Phoenix after that as the tournament champs made quick work of the Bears in a 25-22, 25-16, 25-17 rout.
Green Bay got off to a fast start, opening up a 5-0 lead in the first, but Mercer was able to storm back and open up a 12-9 lead of its own. Two straight kills by Gunderson followed by a Monica Anderson (Cottage Grove, Wis.) kill evened things back up at 20-20, and Green Bay used a pair of Van Zeeland kills to end it at 25-22.
The second and third sets were dominated by the Phoenix, as Green Bay led by as many as nine in both. Gunderson had five kills in the second and six kills in the third en route to tying her career-high of 14 for the match. The sophomore hit an impressive .458 in the contest.
Freshman Shannon Hurley (Connellsville, Penn.) joined Gunderson in double-figures with 10 kills, while the tournament MVP Van Zeeland tallied eight kills and eight digs. Sophomore Emily Riese (Fond du Lac, Wis.) finished the contest with 32 assists and six digs.
Green Bay returns to action next weekend with two matches at Northern Iowa on Saturday at 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. The Phoenix home opener is slated for Tuesday, Sept. 17 against Marquette at the Kress Center.
Leah Van Zeeland, Green Bay – MVP
Mikaela Gunderson, Green Bay
Katie Mroczenski, Green Bay
Katherine Culwell, Auburn
Sarah Wroblicky, Auburn
Kiah Chatham, Troy
Emily Rochefort, Mercer
All-Tournament Team (L-R): Katie Mroczenski, Leah Van Zeeland (MVP) and Mikaela Gunderson
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