Volleyball Battles in Loss at #5 Florida
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The Western Michigan volleyball team closed their stay at the Active Ankle Challenge with a spirited performance against the nationally-ranked host team, falling 3-1 (21-25, 22-25, 30-28, 18-25) to #5 Florida in the final match of the tournament. With the loss, the Broncos fall to 6-4 on the season.
Stephenee Yancy was named to her third All-Tournament team of the season, recording 20 kills and hitting a mind-boggling .613 (20-1-31) against the Gators. Claire Gerwig tied a career-high with 15 kills and hit at a .278 clip, and Ave Stout finished with a career-high 12 kills and a very strong .370 hitting percentage. Lena Oliver had a match-high 29 digs for the Broncos, and Lexie Pawlik dished out 53 assists.
Both of the first two sets were close, with the Broncos not backing down from their nationally ranked opponent. The Broncos actually led 10-6 at one point in the first set when Yancy recorded a solo block of Taylor Brauneis, and the Broncos and Gators traded points deep into the set. Yancy tied the set at 18 with a kill, but the Gators took the lead on Ziva Recek's kill to make it 19-18 and to take the lead for good, en route to a 25-21 win. Similarly, the Gators took the lead midway through the second set to take the 2-0 lead on their opponent; after Rachel Sheffer notched a kill to tie the set at 13, the Gators took the lead on a service error and ultimately came away with the 25-22 win.
The Broncos were not done, though, pushing their hosts to the very limit by taking the third set and playing a competitive fourth. WMU opened the third set on a 6-0 run, with Yancy setting the tone with a kill to take the lead. Alysia Baznik and Gerwig had kills on back to back points to make it 4-0, and Yancy solo-blocked Simone Antwi to make it 5-0 and force a Florida timeout; Baznik notched a kill to make it 6-0. The Gators fought back, though and in fact tied the set at 23-23, and eventually took a 24-23 lead. Sheffer put the Broncos back in position with a kill to tie it at 24, and the teams traded point until Gerwig had a kill to give WMU a 28-27 lead. Gerwig struck again to make it 29-28, and a Florida attack error gave the Broncos the marathon set win at 30-28.
The Gators rebounded from the loss, though, and drove back a feisty WMU attack to seal the win in the fourth set. Sheffer gave WMU a 10-8 lead with a kill at one point, but the Gators went on a 5-0 run to take a 13-10 lead, and Florida held on to that lead for good. The closest the set would get from that point was when Ave Stout ripped a kill to make it 18-16, but the Gators tightened up and eventually won 25-18.