By Tori Wittenbrock
Associate Sports Editor
DAYTON – The Green Bay women’s volleyball team closed out a phenomenal 2023 season on Nov. 19 with an unfortunate loss to the Wright State Raiders in straight sets (14-25, 16-25, 18-25). Their defeat comes at the hands of the defending back-to-back Horizon League champs who will advance to Round 1 of the NCAA Tournament to represent the Horizon League for the second consecutive season.
Emma Best and Cora Behnke had standout games for the offense with eight kills each. Emma Johnson had 30 assists. For the defense, the Phoenix had three players that posted well with Abby Gardner’s 13 digs, as well as 11 each from Behnke and Hannah Vanden Berg. Ellie Kurpeikis proved strong as well with five blocks.
The Phoenix finished up the season with a 16-16 record overall and 13-5 in the Horizon League, while Wright State went 21-10 overall and 15-3 on the season. The Phoenix were out played in aces posting zero to Wright State’s six on the day.
Leaders on the court
Upon the conclusion of the match, Vanden Berg and Paalman were named to the Horizon League All-Tournament Team. Vanden Berg led the team this season averaging 14.5 kills, 9.5 digs and 1.5 blocks per match, while Paalman averaged 12.0 kills on a .259 attack percentage with 2 blocks per match.
The Phoenix struggled early on in the first set, having to work their way up from 25-14. Wright State took a 9-3 lead early in the match, setting them in good position. The Raiders wrapped up Set 1 with 13 kills on a .333 hitting percentage.
Going into Set 2, UW-Green Bay fell 25-16, putting them down 2-0 in the match — a tough deficit to overcome. Yet, the Phoenix rallied to an 8-8 tie when Wright State found a rhythm to bring them up to the lead. The Green Bay Phoenix reached a score of 19-16, but the Raiders finished off with 6-0 in points to take the win for the set.
In the third and final straight set of the match, Wright State swept the Phoenix with a 25-18 victory. The Phoenix held tough for a majority of the set, but a 10-4 Wright State run gave them control of the set, handing them the Horizon League Championship victory and a ticket to the NCAA Tournament.
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