Volleyball earns co-conference title

On Friday, Oct. 24, and Saturday, Oct. 25, the UW-Eau Claire volleyball team traveled to Whitewater to compete in the UW-Whitewater Tournament. The Blugolds also played a match against UW-Superior on Wednesday, Oct. 22. Eau Claire walked away from all five games over the weekend victoriously.

In the match against Superior, the Blugolds won the first three games, improving their Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference record to 7-1. Every statistical category – kills, assists, service aces and blocks – was dominated by Eau Claire. Senior Abby Freiborg recorded 10 kills and 22 digs in the match, both of which were the best totals on the team. Sophomore Danielle Lucia also collected 10 kills and senior Emily Haese led the team with 40 assists.

“When we run our offense, we really can’t be stopped,” sophomore Amanda Lessner said in an interview following last weekend’s home games.

With a 7-1 WIAC record, the Blugolds are now tied with UW-Oshkosh atop the WIAC standings. The co-conference championship is the second one for the Blugolds in the past three years, and the first under second year coach Kim Wudi.

“It’s going to be a huge advantage to host conference on our floor,” Freiborg said. “I’m really excited to have a whole week of home games, and to have that home court advantage.”

In Whitewater the Blugolds faced Illinois Wesleyan, and won in five games. Lucia and senior Jenna Weber enjoyed career best performances. Lucia led the team in kills, with 18, and Weber contributed another 13 kills.

In the second match of the night, the Blugolds faced Grand View (Iowa). With victories by scores of 25-17, 25-14 and 25-20, the Blugolds earned their first of two sweeps in the tournament. Freiborg recorded another 14 kills, and Haese recorded a season-high 53 assists and 13 digs. Junior Lindsey Smith contributed with 21 digs.

On Saturday the Blugolds played against two Iowa teams. With scores of 26-24, 25-18, 21-25 and 25-20, against Wartburg (Iowa) the Blugolds improved their season record to 18-10 overall. Three Blugolds eclipsed the double digit mark in kills. Senior Katie Fox led the way with 14 kills, and Lucia and Freiborg contributed 12 and 11 kills, respectively.

In its final match of the tournament, the Blugolds played Coe College (Iowa). The 25-20, 25-18 and 26-24 victories gave the Blugolds their second sweep of the tournament. Once again leading the team in kills was Freiborg with 12. Haese recorded 23 assists, and Smith picked up 19 digs.

“It was nice to go 4-0 on a weekend,” Freiborg said. “It feels good to accomplish . but we definitely need to keep striving for more.”

Eau Claire will play Bethany Lutheran College (Minn.) and Northland College in Ashland on Saturday, Nov. 1. The Blugolds will then have a quick turnaround and play against UW-Stout on Tuesday, Nov. 4 in McPhee center as a part of the WIAC First Round.

“I think that we’ve been playing a lot better,” Freiborg said. “A lot of people have stepped up and played very well. Senior leadership has definitely been key.”