Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Volleyball: Netters enter tourney as No. 3 seed


By Erik Lewis

One season has ended, but another begins when tournament time hits. The Warhawks women’s volleyball team knows that fact and plans to use lessons it learned from adversity during the season.

Ariel Johnston

“I think our biggest challenge will be us being ourselves, because that’s how it was when we were in our rut recently,” senior Ariel Johnston said. “All we have to do is work on that in practice, and hopefully it will show on the court next week.”
Last Wednesday was a chance for the ’Hawks lone senior, Johnston, to play against UW-Platteville, and the team came through to finish the conference season with a sweep of the Pioneers.

The ’Hawks took all three sets, 29-27, 25-14 and 26-24.

In the sweep, junior Kelsey Nobilio led the team with 16 digs, her 90th career match with double-digit digs, and junior Kim Frei had 46 assists.

Sophomore Brittney Langley and freshman Staci Hasler each had 14 kills for the ’Hawks.

The ’Hawks only had a .310 hitting percentage, while the Pioneers struggled as well with a .200 hitting percentage.

“I think it just shows how when we get ourselves in tight situations like that that we’ll have to play just as well as if we were up, and how we can still take a set and still have it be that close,” Johnston said.

Previously ranked in the American Volleyball Coaches Association top-25 poll, the ’Hawks have since dropped out after a “rut.”

“It was nice to finally get a win because we’ve been having a few upsets recently,” Johnston said. “It just gives us more momentum into this weekend and for next week.”

Before the win against the Pioneers, the ’Hawks lost matches to DePauw, 3-0, UW-Oshkosh and UW-Eau Claire, 3-1, and Coe, 3-0.

Johnston said the wins should give the ’Hawks a shot in the arm to end the season on a good note heading into the tournament.

Johnston and Nobilio said the team has learned to not give up until the match is over.

Kelsey Nobilio

“We know that even with the ups and downs, we can pull through,” Nobilio said. “So as long as we play Warhawk volleyball, we shouldn’t have a problem.

At the Wheaton College Triangular, the ’Hawks continued that hot streak, sweeping Augustana and Wheaton, 3-0.

Being the only senior on the team, Johnston has been to a few more WIAC and NCAA Tournaments than some of the underclassmen and freshmen, so she knows how tournament play can be.

“It’s a different experience,” Johnston said. “It’s definitely exciting when you win it, but you just have to keep working hard, and maybe they can have that experience this year, too.”

The standings atop the WIAC look the same as they did last year.  The ’Hawks finished the season in third place with a 5-3 conference record behind UW-Stevens Point and UW-Eau Claire.

The ’Hawks netters enter the tournament as the No. 3 seed with a potential rematch against UW-Eau Claire looming.

“Having another shot at Eau Claire would be awesome,” Nobilio said. “We didn’t play at the level we needed to last time, so as long as we come out ready to go, we should definitely be able to beat them.”

The wins will propel the ’Hawks into the beginning of the WIAC tournament, which could be beneficial to their seeding for the NCAA tournament.

Nobilio said the ’Hawks are practicing strategies they have seen the other teams use that will help make sure they are executing on their side of the net.

“We have to play as a team if we want to go far, and with everyone on the same page, we should be able to do anything we set our minds to,” Nobilio said.

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Founded 1901
Volleyball: Netters enter tourney as No. 3 seed