’Hawks upset in first round

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By Adam Reed

Nov. 18, 2015

The UW-Whitewater women’s volleyball team saw its season grind to an abrupt halt Nov. 13, losing a heartbreaker to the University of Northwestern [Minnesota] Eagles in the first round of the NCAA Division III regional tournament.

The team jumped out to an early advantage by taking set one, but the Eagles refused to be defeated, eventually besting the Warhawks in five sets.

“I feel like both teams gave it their all,” sophomore middle hitter Courtney Wagner said. “Obviously nobody wants their season to end, and it was just a great fight.”

Adding to the emotions of a difficult loss were the emotions of knowing three of the players, seniors Jaclyn Krizka, Brittney Langley and Stephanie Cherwin had all played the last game of their collegiate career.

“I’m really going to miss all three of them,” junior outside hitter Tessa Weber said. “They each had their own unique qualities that really brought this team together, and I think that they were irreplaceable.”

As irreplaceable as the seniors may seem, the Warhawks do have a strong junior class, led by Lauren Pfeifer and Staci Hasler, who were both named All-Midwest Region. Pfeifer led the conference in kills.

Pfeifer and Weber played every set for the team this year, while Hasler missed only one. The trio combined for 645 kills, 1294 assists, 150 blocks, 877 digs and 122 service aces this year.

The sophomore class had significant contributions this year as well, with Wagner and Sydney Racky leading the way. Wagner led the team in blocks, tallying 137 on the season, and Racky added 283 kills, 28 blocks and 63 digs.

Racky played in 114 sets this year, filling the role of injured senior captain Jessica Sabey, who maintains eligibility for next year and is hopeful to return.

“Sydney Racky came in and played on the outside, coming in as a right side [hitter] and a transfer [student] taking Jessica’s spot,” Wagner said. “She stepped up huge.”

Defensive specialist Brittany Robinson headlined the contributors for the freshmen, playing in every set and racking up 647 digs to lead the team. Freshman Kelley Berk added 126 kills and 56 blocks.

Collectively, the team achieved a 31-5 overall record, won the conference championship for the 15th time, and earned a bid to the NCAA tournament for the 24th-consecutive year.

“This year we stood out, we made a name for ourselves, and we proved that we deserve to be a part of the Whitewater name,” Hasler said. “We may have been knocked out [at] the same [level] that we have been the last few years, but winning conference and knocking out the number eight and the number six…that’s something that you’re never going to forget even with dealing with a loss like we did.”

Now that the year is over, the team looks to build off its solid season. The team leaders in every major statistical category will return next year, but according to Pfeifer, there is a lot more to the team’s success than just stuffing the stat sheet.

“All of those girls [returning next year] have a crazy work ethic and dedication, not only to this team, but to the entire university,” Pfeifer said. “They are great students in the classroom, and just knowing that I get to be with those people every day, I cannot be more excited to get to know them more and see where we end up next year.”

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