Volleyball outlasts Milwaukee

Stephenee Yancy & Nicole Johnson

Stephenee Yancy (left) led the charge Saturday with 24 kills and Nicole Johnson handed out 52 assists. Photo: Steve Woltmann

The volleyball team needed a decisive fifth set, but the Flames beat the visiting Milwaukee Panthers Saturday afternoon, 3-2.

Stephenee Yancy led the charge with 24 kills and Nicole Johnson handed out 52 assists.

“I’m proud of the way that we dug deep within ourselves in the fifth and found what it takes to win a key conference match,” says head coach Katie Schumacher Cawley.

The Flames hit the road with matches at Youngstown State Friday and Cleveland State Saturday.

UIC came up with an abundance of energy in the opening set Saturday. The teams were tied at eight points apiece when setter Nicole Johnson found Yancy for a kill, one of five in the first set for the senior. The Flames continued to push the pace as they built the lead to six points at 17-11, prompting the Panthers to use their final timeout of the set. UIC led 23-16, and it withstood a late charge to pick up a 25-20 victory in the premiere set when Kara Johnson clubbed down her first kill of the match.

UIC had 10 kills in the first set, including five from Yancy. Nicole Johnson assisted on eight of those 10 terminations. Tracy Friel added a pair of service aces in the opening set for the home team.

The Flames took a 4-3 lead early on in the second set and en route to a 25-18 triumph. An 8-2 run made it 11-3, but Milwaukee never came closer than 15-13. The Flames finished the frame when Casey Harris and Hunt teamed up for a block of UWM’s Maggie Dunbar. Hunt paced the home team with five kills in the second set alone as she hit .625 without an error. Yancy added four more kills, while Nicole Johnson handed out 13 helpers.

As a team, UIC hit a robust .448 in the second stanza with only one error and 14 kills. Milwaukee committed nine hitting miscues, including six unforced.

Milwaukee edged out to a 10-7 advantage in the third set, but after a timeout, UIC went on a 4-1 run to even the ledger at 11 points apiece. The Flames grabbed a 15-14 lead, their first of the set, when Yancy hammered down a weak overpass from the Panthers. The visitors were able to regain the advantage, however, and led 18-15. UIC scored three points in a row to bring it back to even and force Milwaukee to use its final timeout.

The Panthers reached 20 points first and the Flames could not overcome the deficit as they fell, 25-21. The third game featured 10 tie scores and four lead changes, the most in either category through the first three frames.

UIC started the fourth game with authority. After grabbing leads of 4-1 and 10-5, Milwaukee used both of its timeouts. The Flames’ lead ballooned to eight points, 16-8, but UWM scored seven unanswered points to pull within one before Alyssa Ehrhardt stopped the bleeding with her seventh kill of the day.

The teams traded brief runs and the Panthers eventually netted a 21-20 lead, prompting the Flames to use a timeout. Kara Johnson scored after the break, but UWM eventually evened the match with a 25-22 victory.

UIC got out to a 6-3 lead in the fifth set, thanks to three kills from Yancy. After the Panthers called a timeout after a kill from Harris, the Flames continued to double up the Panthers, 8-4, as the teams changed ends. The lead grew to as many as five points before Milwaukee made another surge. They got to within two, but the home team persisted and prevailed for a 15-11 victory.

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