EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) - The 16th-ranked UW-Eau Claire volleyball team moved into the championship match of the 2010 Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) Tournament with a 3-1 victory over 14th-ranked UW-Whitewater at the McPhee Physical Education Center tonight.
Tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. the Blugolds (24-8) will face UW-Platteville (30-3), which defeated UW-Oshkosh 3-1 in the other WIAC Semifinal match tonight. Platteville comes into the match on an 18 game winning streak with its last loss coming on Oct. 1 against the Blugolds. Whitewater and Oshkosh will play for third place at noon.
The Blugolds have played in the WIAC Tournament Championship match six times but have always finished as runner-up. This is the third consecutive year Eau Claire will be competing in the tournament championship and fifth time since 2005. The only time Eau Claire face Platteville in the championship was in 2005 and the Pioneers came away with a 3-0 win. In its current format, the tournament has been contested every year since 1988.
Tonight's win for the Blugolds was a big one, as they have not won in two previous matches against the Warhawks this season. Whitewater came away with 3-1 wins in both. In addition, Whitewater had won four straight over the Blugolds with Eau Claire's last win coming on Sept. 1, 2009. Whitewater has been the dominate force in the WIAC Tournament having won 13 of the possible 22 titles. Oshkosh has come away with four tournament titles while Platteville has captured the third most with two.
In tonight's match, the Blugolds didn't start off hot right away but quickly got into the swing of things when they needed to. Whitewater took an early 3-1 lead in set one but the Blugolds went on to shut them down and jumped out to a 14-5 lead, scoring 10 straight points. They went on to win set one 25-11. In set two, the Blugolds got down early but made a comeback that fell just short as Whitewater took the set 25-23.
The next two set were Eau Claire's. The Blugolds jumped out to a 12-5 lead and went on to take the set 25-16. In the fourth set the teams were very close most of the way and the Blugolds were up just two points (18-16) near the end. However, the Blugolds regrouped and scored six straight points to take a 24-16 lead before ending with a 25-18 win.
The Blugolds outhit the Warhawks .269-.117 and Rachel Ver Voort (Sr.-Madison, Wis./Middleton) came away with a match-high 12 kills. Amanda Lessner (Sr.-Watertown, Wis.) had a team-best 15 digs while three other Blugolds finished in double digits. She also led the way with 36 assists.