For the second straight season, the Nebraska Wesleyan University volleyball team advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division III National Tournament as they defeated the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, 3-1, in the first round of the Central Region Tournament held Thursday afternoon (Nov. 12) in St. Louis, Mo.
Nebraska Wesleyan (18-11), ranked No. 21 in the AVCA/DIII poll, will now advance to the Central Region semifinals where they will face the No. 2 seed, Carthage College who defeated Simpson, 3-0.
The third-seeded Prairie Wolves set the tone of the match early as they jumped out 3-0 lead in the first set and never looked back. NWU had five total blocks and controlled the net to take the first set, 25-17.
Wisconsin-Platteville (22-15) answered back in set two as they took a 9-8 lead and never trailed again as the Pioneers would win set two, 25-20.
Set three was a very competitive match with the two teams trading blows back and forth. NWU led by as many as five points early, but the Pioneers tied the match at 20-20. The set would be tied again at 22-22 and 24-24. Brittny Barber added a big kill to give the Prairie Wolves the lead, then Elise Schmid closed the set with a solo block to give NWU the 26-24 win.
NWU would show no doubt in set four as they climbed out to a 7-2 early lead and would never allow the Pioneers to get closer than three points to win the match with a 25-21 win in set four.
Laura Brammeier and Brittny Barber both had huge matches to lead NWU. Brammeier led the Prairie Wolves with a double-double pounding out 17 kills with 12 digs. Barber also had a double-double with 13 kills and 16 digs. Elise Schmid was a strong presence at the net with five total blocks to go along with nine kills. Ashley Jedlicka dished out 40 assists and had nine kills. In her first match in over a month, Erika Goldsmith returned to lead NWU with 17 digs.
NWU will now play Friday afternoon at 4:30 p.m., for a chance to advance to the Regional Championship.