Volleyball continues success

Story by Bridget Cooke, Staff Writer

Feelings of victory were doubled for the UW-Eau Claire volleyball team on Oct. 6 when they celebrated two achievements — winning their match against UW-Oshkosh at home and raising $300 to support a teammate’s niece diagnosed with brain cancer.

Freshman Juliana Burzynski, one of the newest members of the team, is the aunt of 10-year-old Lakken Burzynski, who has been diagnosed with medulloblastoma. The youth clinic held earlier that day was host to children from 5-12 years with free admission. Voluntary donations were raised for Lakken through this event.

“I was really excited when we won that fast and quickly,” Burzynski said. “I think having Lakken there kinda gave us all more inspiration.”

Burzynski announced to the crowd before the match began that the team’s efforts had raised $300 to help her niece and their family. Burzynski ended her address simply, adding, “we love you, Lakken.”

Fundraising was not the only successful feat accomplished by the Blugolds that day. The volleyball team beat Oshkosh in three sets, with games one and three won easily. The second was closely matched, but the Blugolds managed a 25-23 victory over the Titans.

In the second set, Eau Claire got off to a slow start. However, after a short timeout, the Blugolds were able to respond well and eventually came back with a 9-7 lead. They ended with a close score, only after yet again failing to score through several series and giving up nine points.

Kim Wudi, their sixth year coach, said she credits good, well-organized play — including some strong serves by sophomore Alexis Wong — as the reason for the team’s win, despite some struggles along the way.

“I was very excited that we were able to come out strong in the first game and get a lead right away,” Wudi said. “I wasn’t worried, but I also wasn’t happy that we weren’t able to start stronger in game two. I was frustrated and a little bit disappointed that we got down 5-0 right off the bat.”

Senior Anne Satterlee said that though the team was trailing, they knew they could pull off a victory.

“When it comes down close like that, you kind of just have to dig in and continue to play the game that you’ve played for so many years,” she said.

This game also celebrated the team’s annual Breast Cancer Awareness Day. Satterlee said she enjoys the yearly match because of the high energy and the good feeling it brings to the team.

“In the locker room Kim talked to us about who cancer affects,” Satterlee said. “Whether it’s you experiencing it or a close friend or family member…You’re not just playing for yourself. The energy is high and it’s probably one of my favorite matches to play each year.”

Wudi added more detail about the small pep talk she gave to her players before the match, saying that she encouraged them to put everything on the floor.

No matter what their motivation is, or if they’re playing for somebody in particular, they just need to go out there, use the gifts they’ve been given and play with everything they have,” she said. “Unfortunately, there are going to be people they know that won’t have that opportunity, who don’t have that opportunity now.”

Wudi and her players said they look forward to their matchup at UW- Superior on Wednesday, Oct. 10.