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UW-Oshkosh Takes Second at Nationals (4-12-09)
The UW-Oshkosh men's volleyball team reached the championship match of the NCCS Division I championship for the fourth time in five years but could not overcome a talented Fresno State University (Calif.) team to capture their third Division I national title.

The Titans lost 24-26, 27-25, 14-16 to the Bulldogs in one of the best finals in the 25-year history of the event held Thursday (April 9) through Saturday (April 11) in Kansas City, Mo.

UW-Oshkosh (49-10) bolted to a 17-12 lead in the opening set before Fresno State University clawed back to tie the score at 21-21. Both teams went back and forth until the end when the Bulldogs clawed out the two-point win. The Titans were hampered with nine missed serves in the first game.

In set two, UW-Oshkosh again built an early lead before Fresno State University came back in the late stages of the contest. This time The Titans relied on the block of Dan Ruys (So. - Kimberly) and John Erickson (Sr. - Ripon) to tie the score at one set each.

Set three went back and forth with neither team having more than a two-point lead. After a center line violation on the Titans gave the Bulldogs a 14-12 advantage, UW-Oshkosh survived two match points after a hitting error by Fresno State University and a block by Ruys and Aaron Lang (Jr. - Appleton), which knotted the score at 14-14.

Tyler Boddy (So. - New Ulm, Minn.) gave the Titans a free-ball opportunity on his serve, but UW-Oshkosh could not convert as another center line violation gave Fresno State University a 15-14 advantage. UW-Oshkosh's season ended on a hitting error on the next play.

UW-Oshkosh was led by Danny Hessling (Sr. - Greenfield) who had 12 kills and only one error and added three blocks. Erickson finished with nine kills and Ruys had five kills and three blocks. Aaron Wayne (Sr. - New Berlin) had nine digs and Bill Meidenbauer (Fr. - Waukesha) had five kills and three blocks.

Nate Sederberg (Sr. - Racine) tallied 20 assists and eight digs and Andy Schinner (So. - Mequon) had 14 assists.

"I could not be more proud of the team," said head coach Brian Schaefer. "We played outstanding volleyball against a very talented team in one of the best finals ever. It was a fun match and even better weekend."

UW-Oshkosh started the tournament on Friday by beating the University of Cincinnati (Ohio), 25-18, 25-19, the University of Utah, 25-16, 25-17 and #21 Texas A&M University, 25-19, 25-18 to take first in their opening pool.

"Right out of the gate we did not take points off in any matches," added Schaefer. "To not give up 20 points in any set the first day says a lot on how focused we were to begin the tournament."

In Friday's action the Titans avenged an earlier season loss to Indiana University, 25-17, 28-26 and then held on to beat Boston College (Mass.), 21-25, 25-17, 15-13.

Against the Hoosiers Erickson had eight kills, Wayne nine digs and three service aces, Sederberg 19 assists and Hessling six kills and four blocks. Meidenbauer added seven kills and Schinner 11 assists.

Lang tallied six kills in the win over the Golden Eagles. Meidenbauer added three service aces and five blocks and Sederberg collected four blocks and 13 assists. Boddy came up big in the deciding third set with three kills and added one block. As a team the Titans had five blocks in the third stanza.

In the single elimination gold bracket on Saturday, UW-Oshkosh manhandled #16 Navel Academy (Md.), 25-19, 25-19 behind 10 digs and three service aces by Wayne. Erickson and Ruys added four kills and four blocks each.

In the quarterfinals, UW-Oshkosh slipped by #12 University of Arizona, 25-23, 25-23 to set-up a showdown with #1 University of Illinois in the semi-finals. Wayne collected 11 digs and Sederberg had seven kills, 10 assists and two service aces. Schinner dished out 10 assists and Meidenbauer had four blocks.

In one the most heated rivalries, UW-Oshkosh beat the University of Illinois, 25-23, 23-25, 15-13 in the semi-finals for the fourth time in five years to advance to the championship match. Of those four wins, all have been in the deciding third set by two points.

"It was another classic UW-Oshkosh versus University of Illinois battle that went down to the wire," commented Schaefer. "It was an incredible match played toe-to-toe by two great teams. Aaron Wayne played the best defensive and passing match I have ever seen and we served amazing as a team. It was a great atmosphere and fortunately we came out on top."

Wayne scooped up 14 digs and only had one receiving error in the match. Erickson led the team with eight kills and Meidenbauer had five kills, four blocks and two service aces. Ruys had seven kills on 11 attempts and Sederberg had 17 assists and seven kills, including three in the deciding third set.

At the conclusion of the match, the NCCS Division I All-American team was announced and the Titans were well represented. Sederberg and Wayne were named to the first-team and Meidenbauer and Hessling were named to the second-team.

Sederberg was previously a second-team selection in 2006 and Wayne a second-team nod in 2005 and 2006 and first-team in 2007. Wayne joins Andrew Sederberg and Mike Semrad as the only four-time All-American in UW-Oshkosh annals.

UW-Oshkosh now has a total of 18 NCCS individual All-Americans that have honored 28 times.

"We were individuals at the beginning of the year," said Wayne. "But we left nationals as a team. I gave everything I had and left it on the floor. I have no regrets and it was one of the best times of my life."



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