The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

    Women’s volleyball takes weekend matches

    Nicole Robinson

    The No. 25 UW-Eau Claire women’s volleyball team hosted two nationally ranked, conference opponents within 24 hours of each other this weekend at McPhee.

    By the end of Saturday, the Blugolds had a 5-1 conference record and were in prime shape heading into their final two WIAC games.

    The team held off No. 19 UW-La Crosse in five games Saturday afternoon at McPhee, a day after taking down No. 14 UW-Platteville 3-1.

    Eau Claire (16-2 overall) used a potent front-line attack to overcome a 2-1 deficit against the Eagles (12-4, 3-2 in WIAC) and snap a five-game losing streak against La Crosse.

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    The Blugolds built off of a momentous fourth game, which the team won with a 30-18 score, to pull out a 15-10 win in the deciding fifth set.

    “It shows a lot about the character of our team,” senior Molly Menard said. “Even when we’re down we kind of shake it off, (and) we’re able to come back after an error and make a big play.”

    Eau Claire took an 11-6 lead in the last game but the Eagles clawed back to 12-9. The Eagles then appeared to have scored to pull to within two, but the officials called La Crosse for a center line violation, a four-point swing the Eagles could not overcome.

    The Blugolds totaled 81 kills in the match, with 24 coming from junior Jessica Groh and 20 from Menard and senior Jenny Wolter.

    “They couldn’t really stop our attack,” coach Lisa Herb said. “And that opened it up for outside and they really responded and did well.”

    The Blugolds fell behind after dropping games one and three. The ‘Golds and Eagles were deadlocked at 16 in the third game before La Crosse put together a 10-3 run to win the game 30-21.

    The team fell behind early in Game 1 and did not get closer than three, losing 30-24. They got even with the Eagles in the second game when they never trailed and coasted to a 30-22 victory.

    The victory over the Eagles polished off a weekend sweep of WIAC opponents. Friday, the team defeated UW-Platteville in four games, winning the final three 30-28, 30-17 and 30-26.

    “This whole weekend was important,” Groh said. “We were able to prove we were a strong team and even if we get down a couple games we are able to come back.”

    The Blugolds held the Pioneers to less than a .225 hitting percentage every set. Eau Claire, meanwhile, went over .300 in each of the last two games.

    Menard, with 19 kills, and junior Carly Freiborg, with 47 assists, led the way for the Blugolds. Junior Jessica Groh added nine block assists and senior Shanna Berger had 17 digs.

    “When we had a good first contact and we got a good set and a good hit, they couldn’t stop us,” Menard said. “If we didn’t block well and didn’t have a good first contact, we didn’t play well at all.”

    After the weekend sweep, the Blugolds are alone in second place with two conference games to go behind 3-0 UW-Oshkosh.

    The Blugolds travel to Oshkosh Friday following the conclusion of its eight-game home stand against Bemidji (Minn.) at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The Blugolds are 10-1 at McPhee this season, including a 6-1 mark on the home stand.

    “It really puts us in good position,” Herb said. “It’s not going to get any easier, but … being 5-1 in the conference is huge.”

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    Women’s volleyball takes weekend matches