Volleyball starts 2-3 on the year, including a 2-2 split at St. Ben’s Labor Day Tournament

The UW-Eau Claire women’s volleyball opened with a 2-2 record after competing in the St. Benedict Labor Day Tournament Friday and Saturday in St. Joseph, Minn.

On Friday, the Blugolds beat Northland in the opening match 3-0, outplaying their opponent 25-7, 25-10 and 25-8. Freshman Katrina Raskie racked up 12 of the 34 kills of the match, while freshman Maggie Holcombe led the team with a match-high record of 16 assists.

The second game against Concordia-Moorhead (Minn.) proved to be different when Eau Claire was defeated 1-3. The Blugolds lost the first two sets but won the third 25-19, and narrowly missed victory in the fourth, losing 20-25.

Senior Jenna Smits came in with a team-high of 31 assists, while teammate Lauren Sutherland recorded a total of 21 digs.

The Blugolds came back on Saturday, opening the day with a match against Bethel University that resulted in a 3-0 victory for Eau Claire. The sets recorded 28-26, 25-18 and 25-19. Raskie made it to double-digit kills with a total of eleven, followed closely by junior Megan Tracie with 10 of her own. Holcombe had 25 assists, and Sutherland racked up another 22 digs.

For Katrina Raskie, who plays outside hitter and setter, volleyball has been a part of her life for the last eight years, and though this is her first semester of college, she is determined to make her involvement with the team a positive experience.

Raskie said the team has a close bond and has a friendly atmosphere.

“I don’t feel like an underclassmen because they don’t make you feel that way at all,” she said. “We’re like a family, which might sound crazy after spending only a couple weeks together, but it really feels that way.”

Senior Lauren Sutherland, one of the team captains this year, agrees.

“A lot of freshmen were on the courts this past weekend, ready and willing to step up and play,” Sutherland said.

Kim Wudi, who began as assistant coach for the team in 2005 and became head coach in 2007, was excited to see all of the girls working together and getting along. She said unlike most sports, these girls only have one or two weeks to come together as a team. And with six newcomers and eleven returners, there is quite a mix of girls out there.

“It was really good to see the new players excited to be in Eau Claire, buying into our philosophies and playing hard,” Wudi said. “They only have a week or two to meet everyone, and I was excited to see how quickly they came together and trusted each other.”

Athletic Director Scott Kilgallon said that one thing we can definitely expect to be different this year is the Women’s Volleyball Cancer Awareness game, which they play every year in McPhee. It will be held in Zorn Arena this year. Kilgallon is excited for this because the team always does a wonderful job promoting the event, and typically raise over $50,000. His hopes with holding it in Zorn are that it will allow for a bigger audience and more attention in the media. The game is scheduled to take place October 4th.

The Blugolds dropped a match Wednesday night to the Viterbo V-Hawks 3-0 at the McPhee Physical Education Center in Eau Claire. They will return to action Friday night at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., starting at 6 p.m.