Volleyball team falls in first round

The No. 21 ranked women’s volleyball team fell to No. 15 ranked University of Chicago 3-1 on Friday.

The loss was a disappointment due to high expectations set early on. The WIAC champions didn’t have their best game going for them from the start.

“We just didn’t come out and execute [the way] we needed to win,” head coach Stacy Boudreau said. “I don’t think it was any one particular thing, it was just the team as a whole. We just weren’t consistent with things as a whole.”

This was the 20th consecutive NCAA Tournament berth for the ’Hawks.

Senior outside hitter Sofia Sanchez, who was recently named to her second consecutive All-WIAC First Team, acknowledged that the ’Hawks had to play their best game if they wanted to beat Chicago.

“If we sustained a lead or even got within a couple points, we couldn’t keep going,” Sanchez said. “It just wasn’t very consistent. To play a team that good and not be consistent, it’s very tough to win.”

Sanchez leaves UW-Whitewater in ninth place in the record books for kills with 1,237 in her career. Sanchez’s departure is accompanied with fellow senior defensive stars Kelli Trautmann and Alyssa Bauer.

“It’s always sad and disappointing for players to end their careers but everybody’s got to do that sometime,” Boudreau said. “Everybody’s going to play that last game.”

This season’s loss to the University of Chicago marks the third consecutive year the ’Hawks have failed to advance past the first round of the tournament. While expectations for a deep NCAA Tournament were high, the ’Hawks still consider this year a success.

“To compete the way we did in the WIAC after graduating three very good players from the year before to win the conference and the conference tournament are definitely big accomplishments for us,” Boudreau said. “We had a very, very tough regional.”

While the ’Hawks have had trouble making an NCAA Tournament run the last few years, that problem may be due more to geography than anything else. Tough first round matchups against a highly ranked Chicago team may not happen in other regions.

“I think it comes back to this region as one of the hardest regions in the country,” Sanchez said. “You’ve got the number two, nine, 15, 16 and 21st ranked teams in the country. We really did fight but you can’t have an off day in the regional tournament.”

Despite the ’Hawks’ recent bumps in the road in the NCAA Tournament, the program’s success in recruiting and competitiveness in the WIAC prove the ’Hawks still have an elite program.

“I think that’s why they all chose Whitewater because they wanted to compete for a program that had the potential to win the conference, to have the potential to go on and do some damage in the national tournament,” Boudreau said. “I think all of our athletic teams have set very high standards and that’s why student athletes are coming to UW-Whitewater – to compete to be the best.”