Volleyball: `Hawks go 2-2 in Invite

 

By Justin Woodard

After an emotional ceremony to dedicate the locker room in honor of former Warhawk Lisa Panici, the No. 18-ranked UW-Whitewater volleyball team split the weekend home invite, 2-2, and improved their overall record to 20-7.

The two-day event started early on Friday afternoon with a sweep of Westminster College. The Warhawks fell short in their second match on Friday to No. 11-ranked Washington University in St. Louis in a match that went five games.

On day two, the Warhawks swept St. Catherine University in the morning, and later that afternoon, the ’Hawks were swept by Depauw.

Washington University in St. Louis was the only other ranked team the ’Hawks played, and they had a good showing. Junior Kelsey Nobilio led the team defensively with 27 digs. She was honored to play on a night Panici was honored.

“It was an amazing feeling to play in that atmosphere for Lisa,” Nobilio said. “We just knew Lisa was up there looking down on each and every one of us with a big smile on her face.”

Even those on the team who never met Panici felt how much she meant to the Warhawks volleyball program.

Freshman Lauren Pfeifer posted 14 kills in the match against Washington University in St. Louis.

“The support we had from our school was outstanding,” Pfeifer said. “All of our players had been waiting for this game the whole week. I never had the opportunity to meet Lisa, but after everything we went through this week I now know what she lived for and meant to this program.”

Junior Kim Frei, who had a couple of service aces in the match against Washington University in St. Louis, also was honored to play on a night in honor of Panici.

“It was an emotional experience. We wanted the night to be perfect for her and it was,” Frei said. “All the fans were so amazing and supportive, which made it a really special game to play in.”

Junior Ariel Freiertag had 11 kills for the ’Hawks against St. Catherines, and Nobilio had a good performance defensively with 20 digs. Against Westminster on day one, junior Kristen Ruchti had 10 kills and nine blocks, and Nobilio led the defense with 13 digs.

The ’Hawks are 13 games above .500 and in good shape before the conference tournament in early November. Expectations are high for many ’Hawks on finishing the season strong.

“I think when we played as a team and had a lot of energy and communication, things were connecting and working for us,” Nobilio said. “But like every team, we all have places we need to improve, and I hope all of our communication and hard work will come together.”

Frei explained her view on the rest of the season in a short and simple way.

“We need to focus on winning the rest of our conference games so we can host the conference tournament,” Frei said.

Speaking of conference play, the ’Hawks will play their next match today at UW-Oshkosh. Oct. 11, they play at the Coe Triangular against Coe College and Wartburg in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The ’Hawks look to improve their 3-1 conference record.