Eau Claire (WQOW) — Coming off one of their best seasons in program history, the UW-Eau Claire volleyball team will be tested early on in their schedule for 2019.
The Blugolds will take on three top-25 ranked teams in the span of six days. They start their season traveling to Virginia for the Christopher Newport Tournament, taking on the 22nd ranked host team to open up. Then their third game of the season, they’ll match-up with Juniata, the number three team in the country. But the schedule doesn’t get any easier, as the Blugolds then return for their home opener after the tournament hosting 25th ranked Saint Benedict. The first week of the season will be a great test for the new team.
“Just having that successful season last year, and just having that drive to win,” says junior defensive specialist Taylor Scalia. “And having that experience, I really think that will help us.”
“It’s great to see how we match-up. It’s always a good representation of where we’ll fall, and honestly we’re going to go in there and play our hardest,” junior outside hitter Makenzie Bachmann says. “And if we don’t win those games, then it’s what can we do next. How do we get to that point where we what to be at the end of the season? It’s still early and we have a lot of growth to make, but we’re going to give it our all and see what we can do.”
One of the challenges for the Blugolds to start the season, will be replacing Madi Surprise at setter. They do have some experience back from last year’s team with sophomore Libby Macken and junior Leah Witzel. Mixed with incoming freshman Abbey Pederson, Eau Claire has three players battling for time on the court. And while they’ve relied solely on one setter last season, don’t be surprised to see a three-player rotation.
“All three of them are really quality setters, and they all bring different things to the table. We’re probably going to use a combination of all three of them at different points in the season,” says head coach Kim Wudi. “So it’ll be a new look compared to having a single setter pretty much for the whole season, but at the same time we’re really excited. We think that’s going to give us a lot of versatility in our offense, so that’ll be something that’s exciting for us. ”
The Blugolds open their 2019 season in Virginia at the Christopher Newport Tournament on August 30th, taking on the host team at 2:30 p.m.