Young volleyball team shows maturity

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Photo by Rita Fay

Story by Rita Fay, Staff Writer

The UW-Eau Claire women’s volleyball team began their season with a win in the Labor Day Classic Friday night in McPhee Center.

Eau Claire won three consecutive sets against St. Catherine University (Minn.) in their first match. Head Coach Kim Wudi thought her team was off to a great start to the season, adding it was good to get over their first game jitters.

“The first match is always the hardest,” Wudi said, “So it’s good to win this first game and get ready for the season.”

Wudi said their ultimate goal this year is to win the          NCAA tournament.

The Blugolds returned to the court after a successful 2011 season. Last year the team had an overall record of 22-13 (7-1 in Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play), and made it to the NCAA tournament. They lost in the first round against the University of St. Thomas (Minn.).

Senior Anne Satterlee says the team worked hard  in the weight room all offseason. The girls all had offseason workouts that included weight lifting, conditioning,           and training.

“We worked volleyball camps for our younger girls. During our breaks there we would play six on six or any sort of volleyball drill,” Satterlee said. “Just to get our hands on a ball during summer is invaluable because a lot of time you don’t have the opportunity to play.”

The team lost four seniors in the offseason, leaving the team with six freshmen on the roster. Wudi says the new additions to the team have been holding their own and those younger girls will definitely be seeing some playing time in the upcoming season.

Although Wudi says every team is a challenge, senior Emily Neave says that UW-Whitewater is always their biggest rival. Whitewater also lost in the first round of the NCAA championship last year, and that rivalry game will take place at the end of September.

The first set was swiftly won with minimal faults. Eau Claire winning 25-20. Eau Claire continued to thrive in the second set, winning 25-18. The third set completed the sweep and Eau Claire came out on top 25-18. Satterlee had a team high of 16 kills, while Neave led the team with 16 digs.

The tournament continued through the weekend. The Blugolds won their second game of the day against Concordia-Moorhead (Minn.), 3-2. They continued playing strong and won their next game against Martin Luther (Minn.), 3-0.

The ladies lost their last match of the tournament Saturday, losing to St. Benedict (Minn.). 3-1. After it was all said and done, the Blugolds left the tournament with a record of three wins and one loss.

“I think we started off the season much better this year than last year,” Satterlee said. “We went 1-3 last year at the tournament so to go 3-1 is really great … and I’m really excited how we started off this year compared to last year.

“I think this team and the whole Blugold volleyball program has a lot to offer … I think we are going to do really great this year.”

The season continues with two away games Friday against Northwestern College (Minn.) and Gustavus Adolphus (Minn.).