A combination of youth and experience from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville volleyball propelled the Pioneers to a 2-0 start on day one of the UW-Platteville Invitational on Friday.
The Pioneers (5-1) defended its home court with a pair of straight sets in its first home matches of the 2012 season. To start the day, UW-Platteville defeated Loras - 25-12, 25-19, 30-28 and closed out the day with another straight set win with a victory over Simpson, 25-23, 25-20, 25-18.
UW-Platteville controlled the frontline in both games, outhitting Loras by a .176 to .055 margin and Simpson, .209 to .084. Setting the attack for the Pioneers was freshman Katie O'Malley of Belvidere, Illinois; she had 30 assists in the win over the DuHawks and 32 in the win over Simpson. The rookie orchestrated an attack of hitters led by seniors Danielle Cushley, who had a team-high 11 kills against Loras and Samantha Rampart, who had a team-high 12 kills in the win in the nightcap.
In the home opener against Loras, the lead exchanged hands three times in the first two sets. To complete the straight-set win over the Duhawks, the Pioneers overcame 14 tie scores and 12 lead changes. In addition, they overcame three set points by Loras to rally for the victory.
In the win over Simpson, the two teams were tied 13 times and saw six lead changes in the first set. It was O'Malley, who had three assists and a dump kill to close out the set for UW-Platteville. Plus, the Pioneers controlled the next two sets, hitting .294 in both sets and Rampart had eight of her 12 kills in the second set to lead UW-Platteville. In the third set, O'Malley had eight assists on the Pioneers' 13 kills.
UW-Platteville will look to bring home tournament title honors on Saturday with a 10 a.m. tilt against Ripon and a potential tournament championship match against St. Norbert at 2 p.m. Both the Pioneers and St. Norbert were the only teams to post a 2-0 mark on the first day of the tournament.
Interview with Samantha Rampart and Katie O'Malley following the match