GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – Green Bay (7-7, 2-0 HL) gave first-year head coach Michaela Franklin a terrific birthday present on Saturday afternoon at the Kress Events Center, and the Phoenix made the present as exciting as possible. After seeing visiting Oakland (6-10, 0-2 HL) rally to win the first two sets, Green Bay came back for a thrilling 3-2 win (22-25, 22-25, 29-27, 25-20, 15-9) in Horizon League volleyball action.
Green Bay led by as many as six in the opening set and by five early in set two, but the Golden Grizzlies, in their first season of Horizon League action, pulled out both sets for a 2-0 lead.
Oakland opened the third set quickly to lead 5-2, but Green Bay scored the next six points. Freshman Shannon Hurley (Connellsville, Pa.) and senior Monica Anderson (Cottage Grove, Wis.) set the tone in the set, combining for 17 of Green Bay’s 21 kills. Hurley had nine kills and no errors on 15 swings in the third set alone.
The Phoenix led set three 24-20 before seeing the Golden Grizzlies score the next four points to knot the score at 24. The two squads went back-and-forth before senior Leah Van Zeeland (Kaukauna, Wis.) found the floor for a 29-27 Phoenix victory.
Hurley and Anderson each totaled 21 kills in the match to lead the Phoenix offensive attack. It was the second 20-plus kill effort of Hurley’s rookie campaign, and the 21 kills were a season high for Anderson. Van Zeeland recorded a double-double with 12 kills and 10 digs.
With new life, Green Bay relied on its defense in sets four and five. Oakland was hitting .298 and had just eight attack errors through the first three sets, but managed a hitting percentage of just .052 with 16 kills and 13 errors in the final two sets.
In set four, Green Bay led 17-9 before again seeing Oakland respond and cut the margin to 22-20. The Phoenix refused to panic and used kills from Van Zeeland and Anderson and a service ace from sophomore Taylor Kasal (Westmont, Ill.) to force the decisive fifth set.
The Phoenix slowly increased its lead throughout the fifth set, breaking an early 3-3 tie with a 4-1 spurt and leading the rest of the way. After her 21st kill made the score 13-8, a solo block from Anderson ended the contest and officially let Franklin celebrate her birthday and a 2-0 Horizon League start.
Another person celebrating her birthday was sophomore libero Jillian Bauer (Verona, Wis.), who recorded a season-best 29 digs in the win. Kasal was also counted on to slow Oakland’s attach, and the sophomore responded with a career-high 22 digs. Bauer and Kasal were two of five Phoenix players with double-digit dig efforts (Van Zeeland – 10, Emily Riese – 10, Becca Mastey – 10).
Sophomore setter Emily Riese (Fond du Lac, Wis.) totaled 59 assists in the marathon match, directing the Phoenix offense to 69 kills and a hitting percentage of .227.
Green Bay begins a stretch of three-straight away from home next weekend, playing Horizon League matches at Valparaiso (Friday, 7 p.m.) and UIC (Saturday, 4 p.m.).
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