Rachel Gardner's match-high 20 digs were not enough as defending WIAC women's volleyball champion UW-Eau Claire defeated the Titans, 3-0, during the league finale Friday (Nov. 1) in Eau Claire.
UW-Eau Claire (19-8, 5-2 WIAC) swept UW-Oshkosh in set scores of 25-14, 25-22, 25-18 to clinch the second seed and a first-round bye at the six-team WIAC Championship. The Blugolds won the regular season and league tournament titles last season before advancing to the semifinals of the NCAA Division III Championship.
UW-Oshkosh (21-9, 4-3 WIAC) will be the fourth seed at the league tournament and host a first-round match against a to-be-determined opponent Tuesday (Nov. 5) in Kolf Sports Center.
Arianna Barrett led UW-Eau Claire with 12 kills on .407 hitting Friday. Makenzie Bachmann added 11 kills and 12 digs for the Blugolds.
Abbey Pederson collected 37 assists while directing the UW-Eau Claire offense. Taylor Scalia and Kendra Baierl led the Blugolds with 15 digs and seven blocks, respectively.
UW-Eau Claire, which won its third straight meeting with UW-Oshkosh, held advantages of 47-30 in kills, .258 to .801 in hitting percentage, 70-61 in digs, 12-4 in blocks and 4-2 in aces. The Titans entered the night leading the conference at 2.06 blocks per set.
Samantha Jaeke had a team-leading eight kills for UW-Oshkosh, which also received five kills apiece from Taylor Allen and Carissa Sundholm, and four kills from both Shelby Coron and Brynna Mayer. Jaeke has now led the Titans in kills 20 times this season.
UW-Eau Claire never trailed in the first set on the way to amassing 16 kills on .245 hitting during the frame.
UW-Oshkosh claimed its first lead of the match at 4-3 during the second set, but a Barrett kill knotted the score at 4, and the Blugolds took an 11-10 advantage they would not relinquish following a Titan service error.
UW-Eau Claire then secured the 3-0 win by racing out to a 12-3 cushion in the third set en route to hitting .244 during the frame.
UW-Oshkosh will be making its 32nd consecutive appearance at the WIAC Championship since the tournament debuted in 1988. The Titans and top-seeded UW-Whitewater are the only programs to play in all 32 WIAC Championships.
Photo courtesy of Connor Miller