Volleyball’s season ends with deciding set loss

First time in 15 years team doesn’t win at least 20 matches.


The Blugold women’s volleyball lost this UW-Oshkosh this past weekend. As a result the team’s season is over. Eau Claire finished with a record of 16-17.

Story by Austin Mai, Staff Writer

In some ways, the UW-Eau Claire volleyball team’s last match against UW-Oshkosh represented its season.

After going up one set early, the Titans fought back and went up 2-1 in the match before the Blugolds forced a deciding set. However, Eau Claire couldn’t get the job done and lost not only the match but a ticket to playoffs.

Missing the postseason is a new experience for head coach Kim Wudi as this is the first time in her career as a head coach her team didn’t make it to the WIAC women’s volleyball tournament.

The Blugolds hosted Oshkosh for the regular season finale with playoffs on the line. With a win, Eau Claire could’ve jumped from the seventh to the third seed, making it playoff bound with home court advantage for the first match.

Four sets in, the Blugolds and Titans had 15 points between them and postseason play. Oshkosh turned up its level of play and posted a .375 hitting percentage, getting nine kills with three errors on 16 attempts. Eau Claire posted it’s lowest hitting percentage of the match, registering .143 with only three kills and one error on 14 attempts.

“In game five, we were tight, and we were playing scared,” Wudi said. “Our team was afraid that our season would end and that’s what happened. That part is hard to swallow because I don’t think we played our best when our best was required of us.”

Junior setter Jenna Smits said despite all of the hard work and preparation, the team couldn’t execute the game plan.

“It defined our whole season,” Smits said. “It had ups and downs, but with an even match, we couldn’t hold it out in the fifth set.”

In its second-to-last game of the season, Eau Claire hosted No. 25 UW-Whitewater for faculty and staff appreciation night. Wudi said her team knew what had to be done to beat Whitewater, but couldn’t execute when it was needed.

“We weren’t aggressive enough going after their blockers,” Wudi said. “When you play defensively all the time, it’s difficult to get anything going offensively. We were back on our heels and didn’t play with a lot of intensity or enthusiasm.”

The Blugolds lost 3-0 and recorded 26 kills compared to the 49 Warhawks kills.

“We were hoping and waiting for Whitewater to make mistakes instead of forcing them into those mistakes,” Wudi said. “That’s the defensive mentality of we’re just going to sit and take whatever they give us. It’s a game of momentum.”

Smits said this season felt similar to last season.

“We were kind of focusing on redeeming ourselves and learning from our mistakes,” Smits said. “Our focus next season must be on the team that we have and what we can do to win a championship, and it starts with the offseason.”

Wudi said she’s proud of her teaming for playing hard, but there must be improvement next season.

“I don’t know if we had that winning mentality every time we stepped on the court this season,” Wudi said. “It was very odd,to say the least, of how many times we took the court and didn’t have a lot of fire. It just didn’t seem like we we’re always playing to win .”