By: Jake Krier, UWEC Sports Information
CHICAGO, Ill. (blugolds.com) - The 2016 season is officially underway for the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire volleyball team. The Blugolds opened on the road tonight at the University of Chicago for the 2016 Gargoyle Classic.
As head coach Kim Wudi alluded to in the season preview, the young UW-Eau Claire squad has a gauntlet schedule ahead of them. The team jumped head-first into the challenging slate by facing Calvin College in the opening match. Ranked fifth in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) preseason coaches' poll, the Knights picked up where they left off a year ago [30-4 record], defeating the Blugolds in straight sets (18-25, 23-25, 18-25).
Offensively, the Blugolds' team hitting percentage dipped to .146, with Katrina Raskie (Sr.-Weston, WI/D.C. Everest) tallying double digit kills with 11, Heather Sawchuk (Jr.-Roseville, MN/Cretin-Derham Hall) with 10, and Madelyn Pashibin (So.-Minneapolis, MN/Minneapolis Southwest) with seven.
Coach Wudi said, "I thought we had several opportunities against Calvin to pull ahead and win each set but we struggled to execute consistently on offense."
In the nightcap, the Blugolds rebounded with a 3-0 win over Rockford University. Eau Claire bested the Regents by scores of 25-8, 25-12, and 25-18 with an improved team hitting percentage of .232. Outside hitters led the way as Heather Sawchuk recorded seven kills, while Laney Lovell (So.-Mukwonago, WI) and Katrina Raskie had five apiece.
Emma Richter (Fr.-Mahtomedi, MN) got her first action setting for the Blugolds, leading the team in assists with 17, which was good for 8.5 per set. Kasey Schumacher (Jr.-Channahon, IL/Minooka Community) posted the top defensive output in the match with 11 digs.
"Against Rockford, I was pleased with how we maintained our pace of play," Wudi added. "We had a lot of players step up throughout the match to contribute to the win."
For those unable to make the trek to Chi-town for the remainder of the tournament tomorrow, the first match of the day against UChicago can be live streamed here at 11:00 AM. Then, the Blugolds will conclude the weekend against Dominican University at 1:30 PM.
Follow the action for all sports this season on Blugold Game Day.