Mount Vernon, Iowa — The No. 4 University of Wisconsin-Whitewater volleyball team fell to Northwestern (MN) in a five-set heartbreaker 25-20, 25-21, 28-30, 26-28, 11-15 Saturday evening in Mount Vernon, Iowa. The Warhawks end the 2023 campaign in the NCAA Regional final with a record of 28-5.
Senior Jenna Weinfurt (Waukesha, Wis./Catholic Memorial) and freshman Aubrie Krzus (Wheaton, Ill./Warrenville South) were named to the All-Tournament Team for their performances over the course of the weekend. Weinfurt hammered down 47 kills averaging 4.27 per set while Krzus dished out 126 assists – an average of 11.45 assists per set.
UW-Whitewater used a 7-2 midset run to grow a 17-12 advantage in set one. The Eagles battled back to within one, 19-18 but the Warhawks scored five of the next seven to secure the win. Payton Kuepers (Madison, Wis./Lakeside Lutheran) pounded down the final point with a kill to give UWW a 1-0 lead in the match.
UWW jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead in set two taking advantage of Eagle miscues. UNW worked their way back to make it a one-point set, 6-5 when Krzus tallied back-to-back aces. A few points later Weinfurt added another ace to push the Warhawk advantage back to four, 10-6. Moments later, Ally Warburton (St. Charles, Ill./North) sparked another UWW run with a kill. Kirsten Anderson (Sun Prairie, Wis./Sun Prairie) added a tally in the ace column with Warburton hammering down another as the Warhawks took their largest lead of the set 14-8. UW-Whitewater held a multi-point advantage the rest of the way as Weinfurt capped the set with a kill.
The Warhawks had four aces in the set. Warburton and Weinfurt were efficient on the outside combining for 10 kills in 17 attempts with just a single error.
Weinfurt tallied the first point of set three with a kill and the Warhawks didn’t trail until late in the set although the score was tied 12 times along the way. With the score knotted 22-22, UNW took its first lead on an ace and then followed with a kill for set point. Abbie Dix (Brodhead, Wis./Brodhead) forced a second set point and a bad set by the Eagles re-tied the set 24-24.
Ally Longden’s (Pewaukee, Wis./Pewaukee) serve was too much to handle to give the Warhawks set point before the teeter-totter swung back in favor of UNW. The Eagles had the next two set points before UWW took advantage of a UNW error and Weinfurt followed with a kill to make it 28-27 in favor of the Warhawks but the Eagles were able to tally the next three to extend the match winning 30-28.
Set four was a battle through and through. The score was tied five times and there were four lead changes by the 13-13 mark in the contest. From there, the Warhawks put together a 6-2 run to take a four-point lead, 19-15. UWW ended up leading 24-21 in the set but the Eagles fought through three set points to knot the set 24-24. The teams traded set points once again with a Anderson Kill giving UWW a 26-25 advantage. It was deja vu all over again as the Eagles tallied the next three to force a decisive fifth set.
With all of the momentum from two late-set comebacks, UNW jumped out to a 6-3 lead. The Warhawks battled back late, pulling to within one, 11-10, on back-to-back kills from Weinfurt. The Eagles responded with three straight to force match point. Anderson held it off with a kill but Northwestern converted on the next point to win.
Weinfurt tallied a career-high 26 kills in the match. Her 73 attack attempts is the most in program history in a single match. She added 14 digs and three blocks. Warburton and Anderson joined her in double figures with 12 and 10 kills respectively. Krzus posted 51 assists with three aces, ten digs and five assist blocks in the contest.
Defensively, Anderson turned away 11 attack attempts – a mark that ranks second in the program record book for blocks in a match and one that she has accomplished twice this season. Morgan Jensen (Sun Prairie, Wis./Sun Prairie) registered 22 digs followed by Longden’s 19.
Despite a tough schedule – over half of the team’s opponents this season are ranked or receiving votes in the latest national poll – the UW-Whitewater registered the most wins (28) since 2016. The Warhawks made their 34th appearance in the NCAA Division III Tournament this season. UWW claimed the league’s automatic bid after sweeping No. 2 and then-undefeated UW-Oshkosh on their home court in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament Championship. Four Warhawks were selected First Team All-WIAC including Weinfurt, Anderson, Jensen and Krzus. Weinfurt (Offensive), Jensen (Defensive) and Krzus (Newcomer) were tabbed WIAC Players of the Year. Anderson, Weinfurt and Jensen also earned All-Region recognition from the American Volleyball Coaches Association. All-America Teams have yet to be announced.