Western Michigan volleyball squandered an early lead to lose, 3-2, to Milwaukee in the first match of the Bulldog Brawl hosted by Butler.
The Broncos got off to a slow start in set one, falling down 6-1 before going on an extended 20-10 run to take control. The Panthers fought back, but WMU secured a 25-22 set win.
WMU had its best defensive set in set two, holding Milwaukee to a .196 hit percentage while connecting on 15 of 39 attack opportunities with just two errors on its end for a .333 attack percentage en route to a 25-21 set win and a 2-0 advantage in the match.
The Broncos really had Milwaukee on the ropes with a 14-10 lead in set three, needing one more set win to secure the match. WMU was still holding a 19-17 lead before a 5-0 run by the Panthers flipped the lead in the set, which Milwaukee would go on to win 21-25.
Set four had its ups and downs for both sides, but Western Michigan could not overcome a 4-0 run early in the set and a 5-0 run later on that set up a 19-15 lead for the Panthers. A 23-25 win for Milwaukee set up a winner-take-all fifth set.
The fifth and final set went back and forth with only one three-point run, and unfortunately for WMU that run went to Milwaukee to set up a 15-12 set win and a comeback victory in the match.
It wasn’t all struggles for the Broncos, as three different players had at least 15 kills in the match. Maggie King led the way with 17 kills and had a .280 hitting percentage. Meredith Phillips had a very efficient 16 kills on just 34 attacks, posting a .441 attack percentage. Andelyn Simkins paired 13 digs with her 16 kills for her fourth double-double of the season.
Freshman Madison Merz had 13 kills to set a new career-high and had a .375 hitting percentage. Logan Case had a phenomenal 60 assists to go with 12 digs. It was her second 60-assist match this season. Mairead Boyle led the Broncos with 20 digs and had five assists.
The biggest issue for WMU was Ari Miller, who was unstoppable for Milwaukee. Miller had 30 kills on 50 attacks, making four errors for a .520 attack percentage. She helped the Panthers hit over .300 in the match and expose the Bronco defense in the win.
WMU plays host Butler Saturday in its second and final match at the Bulldog Brawl. The match will get underway at 6 p.m.