Coming off what some would consider their best win of the season, the UW-Eau Claire volleyball team traveled to River Falls on Wednesday, Oct. 8. The Blugolds swept UW-Oshkosh, the No. 10 team in the nation and the preseason favorite to win the conference, to keep their Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) record perfect at 3-0. The games on Wednesday against UW-River Falls were also part of a WIAC match.
“They can’t be overlooked,” senior Abby Freiborg said in an interview following the sweep of Oshkosh. “It’s hard to play over there, and they’re going to come ready to play. We need to be mentally prepared.”
In the first two games, the Blugolds committed numerous service and attack errors, which led to two losses. In the first game, an 18-25 loss, the Blugolds only recorded 10 kills while committing eight errors. The Blugolds continued to commit mistakes in the second game, a lopsided 10-25 loss – Eau Claire only managed to record six kills, and committed six errors.
“I think that we were thinking about how well we played against Oshkosh,” Senior Emily Haese said. “We kind of expected ourselves to play well without (having) that focus.”
Game three looked as though it would end in similar fashion, with the Blugolds trailing 11-15. Eau Claire managed to make a comeback, winning the third game by a score of 25-23. The fourth game was a close game as well, with the Blugolds winning 25-22. The fifth game — which is only played to 15 points, win by two – was another close game. The Blugolds found themselves down early, but rallied back to win by a score of 16-14.
“We can’t expect ourselves to play good every game – we need to be focused and be prepared for every game no matter who it is,” Haese said.
Freiborg, the season leader in kills with 215, once again led the team in Kills with 14. Haese, the teams setter, added 45 more assists, which raises her team-leading total to 746. Junior Lindsey Smith led the team in digs with 18, raising her team-leading season total to 316.
The victory improves the Blugolds’ WIAC record to 4-0, and their overall record to 12-9. The Blugolds will return home for a match against UW-Stout on Wednesday, Oct. 15, in the McPhee Center. The Blue Devils currently have a 1-3 WIAC record and a 4-15 overall record. The next four matches for the Blugolds come against other WIAC teams that have a combined WIAC record of 6-13.
“It’s a challenge knowing that (an undefeated WIAC season) could be a possibility for us,” Haese said. “We can’t look forward to the end of the season without finishing up what we have left.”