The UW-Eau Claire women’s volleyball team had a rough start this past weekend at the annual Labor Day Classic, but they turned it around for two wins on Tuesday.“We adjusted (the game plan) a lot. I think that is really the characteristic of this team this season,” head coach Kim Wudi said. “We have several different people we can put into different positions. If someone is having an off night, it’s nice to have that flexibility.”
Senior Jenny Burzynski tied with junior Emily Neaves for a team-high of 15 digs against Bethel. Neaves also had a match-high 43 set assists. Senior Liz Amici led the Blugolds in kills, with 14 against St. Scholastica.
“Coming into (Tuesday’s) matches, I think, the newcomers knew what to expect,” Burzynski said, comparing them to the Labor Day Classic. “A lot of people stepped up, and we played more together.”
On Friday, the Blugolds started strong with a win against Lawrence University, 25-7, 25-16, 25-17. Junior Anne Satterlee led the Blugolds with six kills and senior Laura Slinger and Amici each had five. Neaves, a setter, managed 26 assists, a record match high.
As the day progressed, the team struggled and lost the rest of their matches. Carthage College, ranked 11th in the nation, handed Eau Claire a loss in four games.
“What was hard for us against Carthage was that we knew we weren’t playing our best volleyball,” Wudi said. “Fundamentally, we did not pass and serve well, and when you don’t pass and serve it’s hard to compete against anyone.”
On the second day of play, Eau Claire kept it close against St. Benedict, losing the first game, 25-20, but winning the second, 26-24. In the third and fourth games, the Blugolds couldn’t bring it home and lost the next two, 25-20 and 25-23.
“We were disappointed that we didn’t win a few more matches this weekend,” Wudi said. “I think we knew that we were getting better every match even though we lost the last three matches and that was what we hung our hat on.”
In the second game on Saturday against Concordia-Moorhead, the Blugolds rallied and took the first game, 25-23, but came up short in the second, 25-18. In the third game, the Blugolds won and took lead in the match, but the final two sets were taken by Concordia-Moorhead, who handed Eau Claire a 3-2 loss overall.
It was their closest match of the weekend where Satterlee and sophomore Kelly Schuh both reached double figure kills, but Slinger led the game reaching 13, bringing two days total to 105.
This season is sophomore Lauren Sutherland’s second with the team. She had some playing time last year being one of two freshmen, but this year has been a big step up, Sutherland said.
“We really improved from the first game to the last, and that I think definitely showed up (Tuesday),” Sutherland said. “We took it to them and showed that we are here to play and that we aren’t nine newcomers and nine returners.”
After a rough weekend on the court, the Blugolds are ready to come back and win. Wudi said this program is used to winning, and with some experience under their belt, the less experienced girls are ready to deliver.
This coming Friday and Saturday, the Blugolds are competing at Augsburg College (Minn.) in the Augsburg Tournament, facing Augsburg as well as St. Benedict (Minn).