Volleyball team forks conference rival UW-Stout

Blugolds win in straight sets to keep playoff hopes alive

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Volleyball team forks conference rival UW-Stout

Photo by Anna Mateffy

Photo by Anna Mateffy

Photo by Anna Mateffy

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The UW- Eau Claire volleyball team hosted conference rival UW-Stout Wednesday night for a match with playoff implications.

With an all-time record of 69-29, Eau Claire won its 19th-straight match against the Blue Devils, a 3-0 score,  in front of nearly 900 people at Zorn Arena.

In the first set, Eau Claire took an early lead by going up 1-5 before Stout evened the score. Both teams went back and forth until a few bad sets left the Blugolds down 19-13. After the Blue Devils struggled to get the ball over the net with five attack errors, the Blugolds rallied to take the first set 20-25.

Head coach Kim Wudi said her team played in-system, executing the team’s scheme efficiently, and when the team is in-system, scoring opportunities present themselves.

“We passed extremely well today and we played great defense,” Wudi said. “I think we only had one receiving error, which is a season low for us.”

The second set went back and forth until the Blugolds led 8-13. Stout scored the next three points before Eau Claire raised the score to 14-21. Stout came back and scored a few points before a bad serve coasted them as the Blugolds took the second 25-19.

Up two sets in the match, Eau Claire began the third set by scoring four unanswered points. Both teams scored against each other until the score was 11-15. Attack errors again hurt the Blue Devils and led to a 13-20 Blugold lead. Stout rallied and brought the score within three before Eau Claire sealed the 20-25 victory.

Wudi said Stout has the ability to do well even when it’s out of system.

“They can be out of system a lot, and a lot of times they play well under the chaos,” Wudi said. “When you have a team that’s fighting hard and young like Stout is, they hustle a lot and sometimes they have junk plays that just drop over. I felt we were really prepared for that today and we finished well.”

Senior Alexis Wong said the team won simply because they executed the game plan.

“Our game plan was to be aggressive at the net on both offense and defense,” Wong said. “We spread out the ball really well and attacked from all over the net.”

Wong said the defense played great, and by utilizing the middle blockers well, the defenders could get in good positions.

Eau Claire’s defense put the pressure on Stout in the third set, resulting in 12 errors and a .000 hitting percentage with only 12 kills for the Blue Devils in the third set.

Wong said the team needs to approach the upcoming matches the same way they approached Stout, taking each set point by point until they have executed the game plan.

Now 16-15, the Blugolds are 3-3 in conference play, which currently ranks them sixth in the WIAC, placing them in the playoff picture.

The team will face No. 25 UW-Whitewater (23-7, 5-1) at 7 p.m. Friday at McPhee gymnasium for faculty & staff appreciation night before returning at 2 p.m. Saturday at McPhee Physical Education Center for senior day/youth day against UW- Oshkosh.

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