By: Jake Krier, UWEC Sports Information
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (blugolds.com) - In a rematch from the second round of last year's NCAA Tournament, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire volleyball team welcomed No. 12-ranked Bethel University to the McPhee Center for their first match of the 2016 Nike/Eastbay Classic.
The unfortunate end to the Blugolds' season a year prior came at the hands of the Bethel Royals, who would advance to the Elite 8 in the national tournament. The Royals entered tonight's contest with an 8-2 record and a number of players returning from their deep postseason run a year ago.
In front of a capacity crowd, the Blugolds avenged last season's loss, extending their season record to 8-2 and kicking off the weekend's tournament in dominant fashion.
The first set saw UW-Eau Claire out-hit Bethel .423 to .182 on way to a 25-20 victory. Eau Claire led by as much as nine at one point. Though the Royals were able to cut the deficit to three, it was not quite enough to overcome the Blugolds' early lead.
Set two was close to begin with, as Bethel tied the set up at 14-all. However, one point later the Royals' top-scorer went down with an injury, and the Blugolds capitalized. An 11-2 run to finish the set pushed the match score to 2-0 with the 25-16 win.
Matching the score from the middle set, Eau Claire finished the job with another 25-16 win in the third and final set, securing the sweep.
The Blugolds accumulated 42 kills to Bethel's 28 in the match and ended with a team hitting percentage of .367.
Heather Sawchuk (Jr.-Roseville, MN/Cretin-Derham Hall) led the way with 13 kills, while Katrina Raskie (Sr.-Weston, WI/D.C. Everest) and Madelyn Pashibin (So.-Minneapolis, MN/Minneapolis Southwest) each tallied eight. Pashibin earned an impressive .727 hitting efficiency in the match. Talia Jaskulske (Jr.-Maplewood, MN/North St. Paul) had a team-leading 14 digs, while Keagan Kinsella's (Sr.-Chanhassen, MN) four blocks were a team best.
The Blugolds are back for more action tomorrow, taking on Concordia-Moorhead at 12:00 PM and St. Norbert at 4:00 PM, once again at the McPhee Center.
Follow the action for all sports this season on Blugold Game Day