UW-Eau Claire Volleyball loses in the first round of NCAA tournament

The Blugolds fall 3-1 to Gustavus Adolphus College


Photo by Submitted

Avery Pennekamp hits the ball past the Gustavus defense

The UW-Eau Claire women’s volleyball team fell short in the NCAA tournament losing to Gustavus Adolphus College in the first round.

The Blugolds entered the tournament as the reigning champions from last year with a record of 12-9.

The first set included seven tied scores and six lead changes before the Gusties took the set 25-16 according to Blugold Athletics.

The Gusties took an 8-4 lead early in the second set. The Blugolds had a total of nine errors in the second set allowing Gustavus to win the set 25-17.

Down two sets to none and facing elimination, UW-Eau Claire battled back in the third set taking a 5-2 lead early on. Hannah Flottmeyer and Arianna Barrett combined for nine kills in the third set. The Blugolds went on to take the third set 25-22.

Gustavus answered in the fourth set with a 12-4 lead. The Blugolds then responded with a 5-1 run of their own to bring the score to 13-9. 

The Blugolds kept it close throughout the set, trailing Gustavus by just one point at 21-20. But the Gusties put the set away with a 25-21 win to close out the 3-1 victory over the Blugolds and move on in the NCAA tournament.

Kim Wudi, head coach for the Blugolds, said despite the loss she was happy with how the team played and made adjustments.

“We had a lot of errors in the first two sets against a good team,” Wudi said. “Some of the errors they forced us into and others we maybe didn’t communicate well enough. But once we settled in, our error load was much lower and we were playing better.”

Barrett, a fifth-year communications sciences and disorders student, said she enjoys reaching the NCAA tournament and competing against some of the best teams in the region.

“Being in the NCAA tournament is just such a unique experience,” Barrett said. “Every team in the tournament is so great and they bring their best and we bring our best. I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

Charlie Nelson, a third-year exercise science student, said the team never gave up when they were down by two sets and kept fighting.

“One thing we focused on all season was grit,” Nelson said. “Whatever it takes, leave it all out there. That is definitely something that we did today.”

Flottmeyer, a fourth-year communication sciences and disorders student, said even though the team couldn’t win the tournament, she was proud of their growth over the season.

“We had to fight through each day,” Flottmeyer said. “It was really special to see us grow as a team, as individuals, students, athletes and as women.”

Barrett said she will miss the relationships she has built with her teammates over the last few seasons.

“My life wouldn’t be the way it is now without the players and my coaches,” Barrett said.

Wudi said this year’s senior class leaves a meaningful legacy.

“These seniors are some of our hardest workers and they kept working to get better,” Wudi said. “That’s the legacy they leave behind.

Mohr can be reached at [email protected].