Despite the 1,000 career kill and a double double performance by junior Stephanie Kirchner, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville volleyball team dropped a 28-26, 24-26, 25-22, 14-25, 15-13 decision to WIAC leader No. 20 UW-Stevens Point on Tuesday night.
The Pioneers (20-9, 2-4 WIAC) were led by the performance by Kirchner, who tied a season-high with 23 kills and 18 digs for her ninth double double of the season. Plus, freshman setter Katie O'Malley had her seventh double double of the season with a 56 assist, 10 dig effort in the defeat. In the loss, UW-Platteville out hit UW-Stevens Point by a .199 to .187 margin and a 6 to 3 advantage in service aces.
The Pointers (20-5, 6-1 WIAC) were led by Sarah Wildish, who had a team-high 16 kills - including three in the decisive fifth set. She was joined in double digits by Morgan Bartkowiak, who added 11. The UW-Stevens Point frontline posted 11 blocks as a team including seven from Allison Davis, who added nine kills.
To start the match, the first set featured 13 tied scores but the set was not decided until three-straight points by the Pointers came after a UW-Platteville set point. In the spurt, UW-Stevens Point took advantage of a pair of Pioneer attack errors and Kati Rau recorded the kill for the one set lead to close out the set.
In the second set, facing a 15-9 deficit, UW-Platteville rallied back with a 12-6 spurt to tie the set at 21. In the spurt, Kirchner had four kills. With the set for the first time since 7-7, two more kills by Kirchner and two from senior Samantha Rampart completed the come-from-behind effort to tie the set at one each.
In the third set, UW-Stevens Point jumped out to a 5-1 advantage until Kirchner hammered down a kill to cut the deficit to 5-2. The kill by Kirchner was the 1,000th of her career and her Pioneer teammates rallied behind her milestone to tie the set three more times and eventually take a 19-14 lead. A 6-1 run by the home team tied the set at 20. Three kills by the Pointers' Sarah Breuer sparked the home team to lead UWSP to a 25-21 victory.
In the fourth set, a 7-0 run early into the set by the Pioneers put UW-Platteville up front by a 10-3 margin. The Pointers would draw no closer as the Pioneers out hit UWSP by a convincing .345 to -.135 margin to tie the match at two sets each.
In the fifth set, the momentum - much like the match - went back and forth. Neither could team build a substantial lead with UW-Platteville rallying from a 12-9 deficit to tie the set at 12. Then, Kirchner and Bartkowiak each delivered a kill for their respective teams to tie the set at 13. Then, a kill by Wildish and a block by the Pointers' Kati Rau and Cassidy Kohlhagen proved to be the difference.
The Pioneers will have a quick turnaround before its next match when they host Viterbo on Thursday night at 7 p.m. at Williams Fieldhouse for Yell Night. Also, at the match, UW-Platteville will unveil its new mascot.