Volleyball falls to Platteville in finals

Story by Thom Fountain

It was closer than it looked.

After mounting a few comebacks and keeping right behind UW-Platteville, the Blugolds lost the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament Championship 3-1 Saturday afternoon.

“We fought, but it was obviously disappointing,” senior and team captain Liz Amici said. “The plan was to come away with a win.”

UW-Eau Claire, who was ranked 16th, earned a spot in the championship game by upsetting 14th ranked UW-Whitewater on Friday night. Platteville was ranked 19th going into the match.

The Blugolds lost a close first game 21-25, but retaliated with a strong comeback win in the second game 25-21. Big kills by Amici and sophomore Anne Satterlee sparked the comeback.

Platteville, however, responded with a dominant third game, leading 18-3 at one point. They ended up closing out the game 25-12.

“I felt like we were always a little bit of a step behind,” coach Kim Wudi said. “We were never quite clicking today.”

The Blugolds started strong in the fourth game with a kill by senior Rachel Ver Voort, who led the team with 15 kills at the end of the day, and Eau Claire scored the first three points. Platteville came back to tie the game and the teams traded points until the Blugolds fell behind 11-15.

Once again, Eau Claire fought back and tied the game 22-22 before falling to Platteville 22-25 in a few heavily contested points, giving them the victory and tournament title.

“This team just refuses to quit,” Wudi said on the team’s comebacks. “They came out and fought hard, we just made a few too many mistakes on our side of the court.”

Senior Amanda Lessner led the team with 14 digs and 35 assists and three other players had ten or more digs.

This is the seventh time Eau Claire has been to the championship game at the WIAC Tournament, but the team has always fallen short. It was Platteville’s third tournament win.

In the aftermath of the loss, Amici said the team needs to work on recovering from a big win to come out strong the next day.

“We needed more energy out there,” Amici said. “We gotta learn how to win back to back big games.”

With the win, Platteville received an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament next week. Eau Claire has received an at-large bid and will play Nebraska Wesleyan University in the first round in Saint Paul, Minn.

Amici said she was looking forward to a week of practice and focusing on the tournament up ahead.

“Tournament time is always a fun time of year,” she said. “We just gotta learn from the loss and then have a great week of practice going into the tournament.”