By: Jake Krier, UWEC Sports Information
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (blugolds.com) - The second and final day of the Augsburg Invitational saw the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire volleyball squad take on a pair of Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) opponents. In Saturday's opener, the Blugolds dropped a five-set contest to the University of St. Thomas, but they regrouped with a sweep of Augsburg College.
The match that pitted UW-Eau Claire against the St. Thomas Tommies was certainly not one of the Blugolds' top showings of the year and was marred with errors. Despite the cumulative 33 total attacking errors, 8 serving errors, and overall hitting percentage of .092, Eau Claire still had a legitimate chance to steal the match in the fifth set.
The Blugolds rallied from down 10-6 in the final set to lock the score up at ten apiece. However, the Tommies put together five straight points from there to win the match. Eau Claire won the first set 25-23 and dropped the second and third sets by scores of 25-14 and 25-22 respectively.
A key highlight in the match came in the fourth set. With their backs against the proverbial wall and trailing 21-17 at the time, Eau Claire scored eight straight points, including three aces from Kelsey Kowitz (So.-Inver Grove Heights, MN/Saint Croix Lutheran) along the way, to win 25-21 and force that fifth set.
The fast turnaround forced the Blugolds to quickly move forward from the loss to St. Thomas, and they did so in the first set with Augsburg College, winning 25-19. Much improved from the day's opening match, Eau Claire hit .286 in the opening set against the Auggies, led by Heather Sawchuk (Jr.-Roseville, MN/Cretin-Derham Hall) and Mackenzee Pierog (Jr-Eau Claire, WI/North) each with three kills.
Augsburg put up a bigger fight in set two, even having a set point, but the Blugolds rallied to force bonus volleyball. Eau Claire eventually walked away with a 27-25 win, and more importantly, a 2-0 lead in the match.
Eau Claire capped off the sweep with a 25-20 third set win. Though the score was close, the Blugolds let the Auggies back into the match a bit down the stretch and were truly in control for most of the final set. The team's 40 kills were aided by Emma Richter's (Fr.-Mahtomedi, MN) 22 assists and 13 from Madison Surprise (So.-Appleton, WI/Kimberly).
All in all, the Blugolds finished out the Augsburg Invite with a 3-1 record, matching last weekend's results in Chicago. The team's overall record after the weekend now sits at 7-2 on the season.
A week off from competition now awaits the Blugolds as they will be in action next weekend, playing host to the Nike/Eastbay Classic. On the docket for opponents will be Bethel University on Friday night and Concordia-Moorhead and St. Norbert on Saturday afternoon.
Follow the action for all sports this season on Blugold Game Day.