Volleyball owns invite, Kirchner recognized

The Pioneer Women’s volleyball team (16-7)  put on a dominating performance in the University of Wisconsin-Platteville Invitational tournament by going 4-0 in the on the weekend and winning the title game in only four sets.

For the second time this season, Junior Stephanie Kirchner was awarded WIAC Player of the Week for her performance in the tournament. Kirchner averaged 4.43 kills per set as well as  a .413 hitting percentage and averaged 2.43 digs.

“We prepare the same way for tournaments as we do games, we get a little more excited because it’s our home court” senior captain Samantha Rampart said.

“The practice before the tournament seems more intense,” senior captain Brooke Nichols said.

The team’s first match on Oct. 5 was against University of Dubuque, winning in three sets by scores of 25-18, 25-15 and 25-18.

The Pioneers followed up that win with a neck-and-neck affair with Saint Mary’s (Minn.). While the Pioneers won again in straight sets (27-25, 25-23 and 26-24), neither team held a lead of more than six points.

In the first set, Saint Mary’s fought to take the lead 25-24. Pioneers senior Samantha Rampart had two crucial kills to make the score 26-25 in favor of the Pioneers. Kirchner had the game-winning tip, making the final score of the first match 27-25.

Coming off of a loss to University of Wisconsin-La Crosse before the tournament, Rampart prepared herself physically by pushing herself and doing high energy drills in practice.

“Personally I was feeling it and I wanted to put every ball away,” Rampart said.

Freshman Katie O’Malley said she and the team prepared themselves by staying positive throughout the match.

Saturday started with another Pioneers sweep, this time of St. Catherine’s (Minn.) by scores of 26-24, 25-21 and 25-14. The win vaulted the Pioneers into the tournament championship against Coe College later that day.

The Pioneers lost the second set against Coe, the team’s first set loss in the tournament, which tied the game at 1-1. The Pioneers shook off the loss and finished off the Kohawks in the next two sets by scores of 25-15 and 25-17.

“I was pleased with what they did and how they did it,” head coach Deb Schulman said.

The Pioneers hosted a home match against the nationally ranked University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Tuesday. The Pioneers won the match in four sets (25-12, 25-21, 20-25, 25-21).