By Emily Simonson, UWEC Sports Information
PITTSBURGH, PA. (Blugolds.com) – The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Blugolds took on the Babson Beavers in the quarterfinals of the 2018 Division III Women's Volleyball Championship on Thursday. Babson had not previously dropped a set in the postseason, however, the Blugolds were able to change that. UW-Eau Claire took three from Babson and were ultimately able to get the win and advance to the Final Four (25-19, 25-23, 25-21).
Eau Claire came out of the gate swinging and got the early lead on the Beavers. Babson started to gain momentum while the Blugolds held the 14-10 lead but some aggressive Blugold offense and an ace by Makenzie Bachmann (So. – Chaska, MN) swayed the momentum back to the Blugolds. Babson was unable to catch up and UW-Eau Claire got the set one win.
Set two consisted of big plays on both sides of the net. There were multiple ties throughout the set, but UW-Eau Claire was able to come out with the set win. Babson held a slight lead but shortly after a Blugold timeout, Amber Karn (Sr. – Middleton, WI) went on a serving run to regain the Blugold lead, 14-13. Kendra Baierl (So. – Marshfield, WI/Columbus Catholic) entered the game and got a big kill to give Eau Claire the 17-16 advantage. After some back-and-forth play, a service error by Babson gave the Blugolds the 22-20 edge. The Beavers challenged the call but the result remained in Blugold favor. Babson tied the set back up at 23. Another Beaver service error followed by another kill by Baierl got Eau Claire the two points it needed for the set two win.
UWEC put up an early 5-1 lead in set three thanks to a series of blocks for the Blugolds. A Krista Meyer (So. – Germantown, WI) service run, along with a shot down the line by Arianna Barrett (Fr. – Lakeville, MN/North) put the Blugolds up 9-5 and forced a Babson timeout. From that point on, it was all Blugolds. The final point came from a Jessica Coyne (Sr. – Verona, WI) kill and Eau Claire sealed the sweep.
Barrett led the Blugolds in kills with 14 and only one attack error, finishing with a .444 hitting percentage. Baierl had some big points on the day for UWEC and had a .714 hitting percentage while doing so. Setter Madison Surprise (Sr. – Appleton, WI/Kimberly) recorded 43 assists against the Beavers. Defensive leaders were Taylor Scalia (So. – Lake Elmo, MN/Stillwater) with 19 digs, Bachmann with 14 digs, and Karn who had ten. Bachmann and Karn also tallied two service aces each. As a team, the Blugolds tallied 61 digs.