By: Jake Krier, UWEC Sports Information
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (blugolds.com) - The Active Ankle Invitational from Washington University in St. Louis wrapped up on Saturday with the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire volleyball team besting the University of Dubuque and Bowdoin College.
A morning start time of 9:30 had the Blugolds right back in the gym on Saturday, but the early match start did not seem to phase them. UW-Eau Claire posted scores of 25-17, 25-22, and 25-15 on way to the confidence-boosting sweep.
They shot right out of the gates, scoring 14 of the first 18 points in set one. The Spartans never got closer than within six points the rest of the way. Set two was different in that the Blugolds had to play from behind, once trailing by a score of 14-8. Eau Claire regrouped from the shaky start to eventually tie it at 17 before getting separation and the 25-22 set win.
The most decisive set victory came in the final frame, as the Blugolds upended Dubuque by a ten-point deficit. In the match, Eau Claire had four players with at least six kills, including Heather Sawchuk (Jr.-Roseville, MN/Cretin-Derham Hall), Keagan Kinsella (Sr.-Chanhassen, MN), Mackenzee Pierog (Jr.-Eau Claire, WI/North), and Madelyn Pashibin (So.-Minneapolis, MN/Minneapolis Southwest). Emma Richter (Fr.-Mahtomedi, MN) led the assist column again with 33, while Kasey Schumacher's (Jr.-Channahon, IL/Minooka Community) 20 digs were a team-best.
Later that afternoon, the Blugolds faced the Bowdoin College Polar Bears out of Brunswick, Maine. In the opening set, Eau Claire fell behind 10-4. An 11-1 run served as a spark behind a comeback win as the Blugolds would not look back, taking it 25-17. Katrina Raskie (Sr.-Weston, WI/D.C. Everest) hit .500 in the frame with six kills and no errors.
In set two, the Polar Bears matched the score from the opener, winning 25-17. It quickly became evident that it was gut check time for Eau Claire, if they were to regain the momentum they had previously in the match.
They did just that in the third set, as they built an early lead and kept it. A closer battle and 25-22 win pushed the blue and gold ahead two sets to one.
A more-definitive 25-14 fourth set victory capped off the win for Eau Claire. Sawchuk and Raskie completed the win with double-digit kills, while Richter assisted the Blugold attackers at an average of more than ten per set. The team as a whole hit .260 in the match and out-blocked Bowdoin twelve to three.
The Blugolds conclude the regular season with two key conference home matches next weekend. UW-Whitewater comes to town on Friday (7:00 p.m.), and Eau Claire then hosts UW-Platteville Saturday afternoon (12:00 p.m.).
**Update** Heather Sawchuk was one of seven players to be named to the weekend's All-Tournament Team.
Follow the action for all sports this season on Blugold Game Day.