A closely matched game on Wednesday night lead to a Blugold victory by the volleyball team against the UW-River Falls Falcons.
The 3-2 conference win over the Falcons put the Blugolds at 9-6 in the season and 1-1 in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
The Blugolds began the match with an early lead in the first set, totaling 12 kills by the end of the set, but River Falls made a comeback and went on to win the set 26-24.
In the next two sets, the Blugolds took strong leads and won them 25-19 and 25-17. In the fourth set, however, the Falcons came back to win, bringing the two teams into a final fifth set.
The Blugolds began the set with an early lead — and with the help of several crucial digs and some powerful kills — won the set, and with it, the match.
Coming into the match, third-year middle hitter Kendra Baierl said the team was feeling confident and prepared.
“We worked really hard on controlling what we can control on our side of the net,” Baierl said. “So I felt like we went in feeling prepared and ready to play and just like in the right headspace to kind of take whatever they throw at us.”
As the game progressed, second-year pinhitter Arianna Barrett said the team began to struggle with various small mistakes that she felt hindered the team’s progress.
When the team encounters setbacks like this, head coach Kim Wudi said the team practices difficult situations in the days leading up to matches to prepare the players.
“If we’re trying to Band-Aid things in a match, you know, that’s not the best way to approach it,” Wudi said. “We need to make sure that we’re prepared and that we’re putting ourselves in situations in practice so that when we get to the match, we have the confidence that we can persevere through that.”
In order to work past mistakes or setbacks, Baierl said the team tries to focus on one step at a time, rather than worrying about the outcome of the set.
“We always say go 1 and 0 each point, each point you only get one point,” Baierl said. “So I guess just working to score one point and then, after you score that one point, go after the next point. Just one at a time.”
Over the weekend the team had a break from competing, where Wudi said the women planned to rest up and take the time to train.
“We’re going to really focus back on our training,” Wudi said. “We don’t have to prepare for an opponent for a couple of days so we can really focus on ourselves and making sure that our mindset is good and that we’re getting after it every single ball.”
After this match, Baierl said she is excited to use the next week to prepare for their next game.
“The win was good and we were happy with that,” Baierl said. ”But it was also motivating. Like, let’s work harder so that the next one is maybe easier or we feel even better prepared next time.”
The Blugolds will be headed on the road to take on the UW-La Crosse Eagles at 7 p.m. on Oct. 4.
Kopke can be reached at [email protected]