Milwaukee captured its eighth Horizon League Volleyball Tournament Title Sunday with a 3-1 win over second-seed Valparaiso at the Panthers Klotsche Center.
After two sets the teams were tied at one, but the Panthers pulled away from the Crusaders in the third and fourth sets to win the match with set scores of 25-20, 23-25, 25-20, 25-18.
The win secures the Horizon League’s automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament for Milwaukee. The Panthers will be making their 10th NCAA Tournament appearance. UWM will find out its opponent in the tournament when the bracket is unveiled on Sunday, Dec. 1 at 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU.
The Panthers showcased a balanced offensive attack on Sunday as four players reach double-figures in kills. Julie Kolinske and Maggie Dunbar tied for team-high honors with 14 kills each. Myanna Ruiz had 12 kills and Nicole Latzig had 11 kills. Kayla Price had a match-high 51 assists while directing the attack.
On defense, Milwaukee had five players reach double-figures in digs, led by Taylor Golabowski with 22. Also reaching double-figures was Ruiz (14), Price (11), Maisey Mulvey (11) and Maddie Schmitz (10).
Dunbar was named MVP of the tournament after recording 14 kills in both matches. She was joined on the All-Tournament team by teammates Golabowski and Kolinske.
Valpo was led by Morgan Beil with 12 kills, while Ellen Vanden Berg finished with 10. Morganne Longoria led the Crusaders with 17 digs, while Sarah Dooms also reached double-figures with 13.
Beil and Vanden Berg represented Valparaiso on the All-Tournament team.
Milwaukee never trailed in the first set and threatened early to run away with the set. Dunbar had back-to-back kills to give the Panthers a 4-1 lead and UWM maintained at least a two-point lead for a majority of the set until a three-point spurt by Valpo got the Crusaders within one at 17-16. Valpo was still within one at 21-20 when the Panthers rattled off four consecutive points to win the first set.
Dunbar and Latzig each had four kills for Milwaukee in the first set as the Panthers hit .256 as a team, while limiting Valparaiso to just a .128 attack percentage.
After trailing the entire first set, the Crusaders turned things around in the second set as they led the majority of the second set. Trailing 1-0, Valpo rattled off eight of the next 11 points to take an 8-4 lead. The Panthers evened the score at 11, but a 4-0 Crusader run gave Valpo some breathing room. Milwaukee kept pressuring the Crusaders, cutting Valpo’s lead to one seven different times, the last time at 24-23, but a Panther attack error gave the Crusaders the set victory.
Milwaukee broke open the third set with a 5-1 run to take a 9-5 lead. The Crusaders would never get closer than two points the rest of the way as the Panthers scored a 25-20 set win. UWM hit .294 in the third set as Latzig scored five kills in the period.
Milwaukee clinched the match with a dominating fourth set. The Panthers went on a 3-0 run to take a 7-4 lead early in the frame and the Crusaders could never closer than two the rest of the way.
Kelly Kiger, Cleveland State (So., OH/MH/RS)
Alexis Egler, Youngstown State (Jr., OH)
Morgan Beil, Valparaiso (Jr., MH/RS)
Ellen Vanden Berg, Valparaiso (Sr., MH)
Taylor Golabowski, Milwaukee (Jr., L)
Julie Kolinske, Milwaukee (Jr., OH)
Maggie Dunbar, Milwaukee (So., RS) - MVP