GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – The Green Bay volleyball team has just one match on the schedule this week – a 7 p.m. meeting at in-state rival Milwaukee on Friday at the Klotsche Center. The match will feature the top two teams in the Horizon League standings, as the Panthers (8-8, 4-0 HL) rank first and the Phoenix (8-8, 3-1) is one game back in second place.
FAST START FOR THE PHOENIX Green Bay’s 3-1 start in Horizon League play equals the best four-match conference start in school history. The Phoenix also began 3-1 in 2003 en route to an 8-1 start, and eventually won the conference tournament and qualified for the program’s first and only NCAA Tournament.
LAST TIME OUT After earning home wins against Wright State (3-0) and Oakland (3-2) in the opening weekend of Horizon League play (Sept. 27-28), the Phoenix split a pair of matches on its first conference road trip last weekend.
Despite a dominant start and a career-high 22 kills by senior Monica Anderson (Cottage Grove, Wis.), Green Bay was dealt a tough, five-set loss at preseason favorite Valparaiso last Friday at the Athletics-Recreation Center. The Phoenix rolled 25-9 in the opening set and had good chances to close out the win in sets four and five, but the Crusaders escaped with a 3-2 (9-25, 25-22, 21-25, 25-23, 18-16) victory.
The Phoenix bounced back from the tough loss on Friday with a convincing 3-0 sweep at UIC on Saturday afternoon. Green Bay hit over .400 in sets two and three and finished with an impressive .315 hitting percentage while holding the Flames to just .087 for the match. Sophomore Mikaela Gunderson (Casco, Wis.) paced the road team with a team-high 10 kills, hitting .444, and also adding a match-high seven blocks. The Phoenix finished with 10 team blocks in the three-setter.
MONICA ON A MISSION Monica Anderson has been a consistent offensive force for the Phoenix as of late, recording double-digit kill totals in each of the last five matches. The senior leads all Horizon League players in kills per set (3.33) and ranks seventh in the conference in hitting percentage (.265). She recently posted back-to-back 20-kill efforts, registering 21 in the comeback win over Oakland on Sept. 28 before hammering home a career-high-tying 22 at Valpo last Friday.
CLIMBING RANK In addition to Anderson, many other Phoenix players also rank at or near the top of several Horizon League statistical categories. Sophomore transfers Emily Riese (Fond du Lac, Wis.) and Jillian Bauer (Verona, Wis.) are both at the top of their respective lists, as Riese is first in assists per set (10.42) and Bauer is first in both digs (297) and digs per set (4.95). Fellow Phoenix newcomer Shannon Hurley (Connellsville, Pa.) is second in the league in kills per set behind Anderson, averaging 3.19, while senior Leah Van Zeeland (Kaukauna, Wis.) is eighth with a 3.03 average.
SCOUTING MILWAUKEE Following a pair of three-set wins at UIC and Valpo last weekend, Milwaukee is now 4-0 in Horizon League play for the fourth time in seven seasons under head coach Susie Johnson. The Panthers had a strong defensive weekend on the road, led by junior Taylor Golabowksi, who averaged 5.83 digs per set in the two wins and was tabbed as the league’s defensive player of the week.
Junior Julie Kolinske leads the Panthers’ offense with 172 kills (2.97 per set), while senior Rachel Neuberger – the preseason offensive player of the year – has 160 kills (2.76 per set) and also ranks in the league’s top-10 in blocks (0.95 per set).
Milwaukee has won 18 of the last 20 meetings between the two schools, but the Phoenix took the most recent matchup with a 3-1 win last October at the Kress Center. Green Bay’s last win in Milwaukee came during the 2002 season.
HEAR IT FROM COACH FRANKLIN Head coach Michaela Franklin sat down earlier this week to recap her team’s strong Horizon League start and preview Friday’s match at Milwaukee. To watch the complete interview, click here. NEXT ON THE SCHEDULE Green Bay wraps up its four-match road stretch next Tuesday (Oct. 15) in Chicago, taking on DePaul at 6 p.m. in its final non-conference match of the season.
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