The UW-Whitewater women’s volleyball team defeated the UW-Stevens Point Pointers in the semifinal match of the WIAC conference tournament on Thursday, but lost to the UW-Eau Claire Blugolds on Saturday night in Eau Claire.
The loss to the Blugolds was only the Warhawks’ second loss of the season, their first loss also coming against the Blugolds on the road in September.
The Warhawks defeated the Pointers 3-0 on Thursday night by scores of 25-16, 25-5, and 27-25 en route to the WIAC championship match.
UWSP led early in the first set but lost the lead after the 12th point (6-6 tie), never gaining it back. UWW led 13-8 at the first timeout in the set, coasting to a 25-16 victory.
The second set was the statement win for the Warhawks. After leading 5-3 early in the set, the Warhawks scored 14-straight points, leading 19-3 before the Pointers scored again. They ended up winning the set 25-5, their largest margin of victory in an individual set this season.
“We kept focus on the next play and we really tried to serve aggressively,” said Head Coach Stacy Boudreau following the match. “We hit very, very efficiently in that second set.”
“We didn’t let up at all,” said senior outside hitter Emma Aske about the second set. “We knew we had to push through the whole set because if we gave them a little bit of a run they’d come back and run with it. We just kept fighting really hard.”
While the Warhawks dominated the second set, the Pointers didn’t let up. They had their first lead in a set (2-1) since the first set, but would lose it again for most of the set.
The on-court intensity continued to ramp up as the set went on, eventually leading to a 24-24 tie.
“Anything can happen if this match gets to 2-1,” said one Whitewater fan, noting that the Pointers would gain momentum in the match if they won the third set.
The Warhawks would not let that happen, though, as two kills from sophomore middle hitter Kirsten Anderson, Aske and a crucial block by sophomore Baylie Hanson and senior Morgan Wardall gave the Warhawks the victory.
“Nothing is guaranteed after any match,” said Boudreau. “They (UWSP) came out and brought their best but we stayed strong and stayed confident. We’ve been in those situations (before).”
“We took a timeout late in the set and we were all very confident that we were going to get the next point and run with it,” stated Aske, pointing at the Warhawks’ sense of team chemistry and “team cohesion.”
The championship match was also a tight contest, but the Warhawks would not prevail. The team lost the first two sets of the match 25-21 and 25-22, then won the third set 25-22.
The fourth set was won by the Blugolds 25-19 to clinch the match as well as the conference championship title.
Following this weekend’s tournament, the Warhawks await the DIII women’s volleyball selection show on Nov. 8. This will determine their seeding in the upcoming NCAA DIII women’s volleyball tournament, which takes place Nov. 11 through Nov. 14, with the championship taking place on Nov. 18.