Up for the challenge

Volleyball looks to replace talented graduated class

Story by Spectator staff

Coming off a third-place finish at last year’s WIAC Championship game, the UW-Eau Claire women’s volleyball team looks to bounce back this year.

The 2013 season saw the last of Seniors Kelly Schuh and Lauren Sutherland, but despite roster turnover from last year, head coach Kim Wudi said she expects the same level of play from this year’s batch of players..

“We have the same expectations every year as far as being competitive and winning,” Wudi said.

The Blugolds started off the season by competing at the St. Benedict Labor Day Tournament in St. Joseph, Minn., Friday and Saturday.

Eau Claire faced Northwestern (Minn.) and Saint Benedict on Friday, losing to both schools 3-0.

Sophomore Katrina Raskie shined Friday, leading the team with 12 kills against the Eagles and seven against the Saint Benedict Blazers.

Junior Jenna Smits led the team during both games Friday with 38 set assists against Northwestern and 23 set assists against the Blazers.

“We got better through the weekend,” Wudi said. “We played like a very young team early on.”

Wudi said throughout the weekend the team made a lot of adjustments including personnel and strategy changes.

“We served more aggressively on Saturday,” Wudi said. “Our overall execution was better as well.”

The Blugolds played Concordia-Moorhead (Minn.) for their third game of the tournament Saturday afternoon and lost the game 3-1. Eau Claire tied the Cobbers after the second set but couldn’t get the win as they lost the next two sets.

Eau Claire finished its weekend tournament playing Augsburg College (Minn.). In a close effort from both teams, the Blugolds won all three sets going 25-23 and 25-21 twice.

Wudi is entering her eighth season as head coach and says the message to the team is the same as always. One change,however, is Wudi wants to run a faster offense.

“We expect to win,” Wudi said. “We expect to make the NCAA tournament.”

This weekend, the Blugolds will compete at the Augsburg College Invitational with the first game at 2 p.m. Friday in Minneapolis.