By: Jake Krier, UWEC Sports Information
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (blugolds.com) - Fresh off Wednesday night's win over Saint Mary's, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire volleyball team headed back to the "Land of 10,000 Lakes" for this weekend's Augsburg Invitational.
Day one of the tournament featured UW-Eau Claire facing the University of Minnesota-Morris and a tightly-contested thriller against No. 18-ranked University of Northwestern-St. Paul.
The Blugolds opened the weekend event right where they left off, as they brought a four-game winning streak into their match with UM-Morris, defeating the Cougars in straight sets (25-17, 25-15, and 25-16).
Eau Claire never trailed in the initial set; however, when UM-Morris cut the lead to 13-12, that was when the Blugolds separated themselves on way to the eight-point victory. A team hitting efficiency of .400, headed by Mackenzee Pierog's (Jr-Eau Claire, WI/North) four kills, led to the set one win.
The Blugolds then used superior serving to secure the win in set two. Amber Karn (So.-Middleton, WI) picked up consecutive aces early (among her four in the set), while Heather Sawchuk (Jr.-Roseville, MN/Cretin-Derham Hall) and Emma Richter (Fr.-Mahtomedi, MN) each added one as well.
Despite a match-low team attacking percentage of .256 in set three, Eau Claire used 13 kills to earn the sweep. Richter led the team in set assists with 31 and digs with 11 in the match.
In the second match of the day, UW-Eau Claire benefitted from Northwestern's .125 hitting efficiency to take the first set 25-22 over the Eagles. Sawchuk and Madelyn Pashibin (So.-Minneapolis, MN/Minneapolis Southwest) each accounted for five kills in the opener.
Set two was more of the same, though the Blugolds certainly had to earn this one. A marathon 30-28 set win put Eau Claire up two sets to none. They had multiple set points and even led 24-22 before Northwestern got back in it with three straight points. From there, the two teams traded points back-and-forth, until UW-Eau Claire earned the necessary two-point advantage.
A six-point run midway through the third set deflated the Eagles, and the Blugolds coasted to a 25-18 win to solidify the team's second sweep in a row and Northwestern's first defeat on the year.
To conclude the Augsburg Invitational, the Blugolds take on a pair of Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) opponents tomorrow in St. Thomas (1:00 PM) and host Augsburg (3:00 PM).
Before tomorrow's action, be sure to catch up on this season's player interview videos here as they are released one-by-one each day leading up to the first home conference match on September 21.
Follow the action for all sports this season on Blugold Game Day.