It was a dynamic duo as Caitlin Schultz and Jess Kalous teamed up for 35 kills as the Milwaukee Women’s Volleyball team came from behind and defeated Bradley 3-2 in Friday afternoon’s season opening match at the Klotsche Center.
The young Panthers dropped the first two sets before a third set that changed momentum. A service from freshman Jenn Dore made it 5-1 right out of the gates. Three consecutive Bradley errors jumped the score to 11-4 and created the ensuing route. A pair of kills from Kalous and Schultz ignited a quick 5-0 run and ballooned the score to 16-5. The Panthers would go on to win the set 25-13.
Milwaukee clawed back after a slow start in the fourth set. A 4-1 deficit was erased by the Panthers as they put together a 5-1 run that saw them take the lead. Bradley then went on a small 4-0 run but Milwaukee bounced back with four straight of their own to reclaim the lead at 20-18 following a kill from Kalous. The Panthers held on to even the sets up at two apiece.
The fifth set began with the two teams splitting the first 16 points. However, from then on, the Panthers landed a pair of kills and created two Bradley errors to widen the lead to 12-8. The Braves attempted to eliminate the deficit, but Milwaukee refused to budge with a match-cinching block by Sydney Book and Bridgette Wallenberger.
That completed the victory for Milwaukee; 18-25, 22-25, 25,13, 25-22, 15-11.
Coach Susie Johnson said the Panthers’ resilience proved to be key in the comeback victory.
“It’s so hard to come back when you’re down 0-2, but the thing is that this team really came in shape this year,” said Johnson. “Bradley wasn’t giving up and we had to make some adjustments and put some other people in and they were able to produce.”
With the win, Milwaukee has won its season opener six out of the last seven years.
Schultz was dominant all match long, as she collected 20 kills to clobber her previous personal record of 11. Kalous chipped in 15 kills on .357 hitting.
Four Panthers reached double figures in digs on the defensive side of things, led by Jenn Dore with 19. Myanna Ruiz (16), Louise Kieckhofer (15), Teagan Taylor (14) and Mykie Olsen (10) also contributed with strong showings.
The Panthers tallied 11 total blocks during the afternoon, including the stoppage of the Bradley attack for the deciding point of the match.
“This is the best defense as a group that I’ve seen in a lot of years tonight,” said Johnson. “We weren’t digging or blocking as much early, and then the block ended up winning the match.”
Milwaukee resumes their action Friday night, hosting Akron at 7:30 pm at the Klotsche Center.