Eau Claire (WQOW) — For the 17th time in program history, UW-Eau Claire volleyball is one of the 64 teams to make the NCAA tournament. And for the third time this season, their opponent will be Saint Thomas (MN) in the first round on Friday.
The Blugolds won the first meeting back on September 8th in the Auggie Invite, taking down the Tommies in four sets behind 18 kills from Madelyn Pashibin and 15 from Makenzie Bachmann. However, more than a month later, St. Thomas got their payback at home, giving UWEC one of their three losses of the regular season, with a 3-2 win.
Friday will be the rubber match between these two high-powered teams at a neutral site, and the Blugolds are very familiar with what the Tommies can do.
“We kind of figured we might be heading to Minnesota and to face the Tommies,” head coach Kim Wudi says. “They’re a great team, and we love playing them. Obviously we scheduled them twice this year on purpose, because we know we’re going to get a great match every time we play them.”
The Blugolds captured their first regular season and conference tournament championship since 2011, and are playing with a lot of confidence heading into the NCAA tournament.
“We definitely know what we can play against them and the potential,” says senior defensive specialist Amber Karn. “But I think no matter what, we’re going to go into the game with the same mindset as every single game, and we know what we can do.”
The regional will be played in St. Peter, Minnesota starting Friday, and run through Sunday. The start time for the first round match-up is still being determined.