Upset special: Netters post big win

Abby Harvey

Volleyball coach Kim Wudi has said that the crowd gives the team momentum. That was certainly true Tuesday night as the Blugolds rallied for a come-from-behind victory over St. Thomas (Minn.).

The crowd was on its feet when Eau Claire won the fifth game, giving the team a 3-2 victory over the St. Thomas Tommies. The win brings the Blugold’s overall record to 16-7.

Eau Claire started out strong in game one, leading at one point 17-12. The Tommies, however, came back to tie the game at 17, and eventually took the lead, 28-25. The Blugolds could not recover, and lost the game 30-26.

It was a similar story in game two as the Blugolds took an early 9-3 lead. Again, St. Thomas rallied and knotted up the game at 18. It came down to the wire with the teams tied at 28. But this time the Blugolds were able to hold on, winning the game 30-28.

Any momentum gained was quickly lost in game three as the Blugolds struggled both offensively and defensively.

“I’ll take the blame for game three,” Wudi said. “I kept messing with the lineup, and I created too much chaos.”

The Tommies routed the Blugolds 30-12, putting Eau Claire down 2-1.

“We came out slow and collapsed,” senior Heather Harnell said. “They took advantage of that and we never recovered.”

Eau Claire quickly fell behind again in game four. But down 26-18, the Blugolds went on an incredible run to tie it up at 26.

“Our team really came together,” junior Abby Freiborg said. “Before we had been playing as six individuals, but in game four we really started playing as a team.”

St. Thomas scored two more points, but Eau Claire would not go quietly and tied it up at 29. In volleyball, a team must win the game by at least two points. The teams exchanged the lead back and forth, but Eau Claire managed to pull ahead, winning the game 34-32.

“It was amazing,” Harnell said. “It started when Kim (Wudi) said, ‘This is where we don’t hold back.’ And we picked up and pulled through. We looked at each other and said, ‘This is it. They aren’t coming back.'”

Indeed, the Tommies could not recover as the Blugolds beat them easily in game five, 15-12.

“It was an awesome win,” Wudi said. “We’ve struggled to beat ranked teams. After game three, the girls could’ve easily folded, but they didn’t give up. Game four was a game for the ages, it was a shame anyone had to lose that game.”

The win is the first this year for the team against St. Thomas, who earlier this season swept the Blugolds 3-0.

“Beating St. Thomas is important since we lost to them earlier,” Freiborg said. “It was a matter of pride for us, and it was a good win that gives us momentum into Friday.”

The team honored the three seniors: Nikki Peterson, Lissa Martinez and Harnell.

“Every game of your last year is something you cherish,” Harnell said.

Eau Claire will take on UW-Platteville on Friday and UW-La Crosse on Saturday. Both games are at home. It is parents and alumni weekend as well.

“We all (all three teams) have something to gain,” Wudi said. “We’re basically all tied, and that will be determined this weekend. We feel fortunate to be at home, and hopefully we can carry this momentum into this weekend.”