Blugold volleyball edges Wartburg in NCAA first round

ST. PAUL, Minn. ( – It was a tough match against 11th-ranked Wartburg College (Iowa), but the UW-Eau Claire volleyball team came out on top 3-2 in the first round of the 2012 NCAA Championship at Schoenecker Arena at the University of St. Thomas tonight.

In the first set, the Blugolds got the first point and the teams went back and forth in the early portion of the set. When it was tied at five, Wartburg started an 8-2 run to build a 13-7 lead but the Blugolds got right back into the set with a 4-0 run. But the Knights never relinquished the lead and although Eau Claire got to within one point twice (17-16 and 19-20), Wartburg hung on to win 25-21.

In the second set, Eau Claire again took an early lead but after a 10-10 tie, the Blugolds scored the next point and never trailed the rest of the way. After the tie, Eau Claire used an 8-1 run to build a seven-point advantage (18-11) and outscored the Knights 7-6 the rest of the set to win 25-17.

Wartburg never trailed in the third set as the Knights won 25-14. The set was tied 1-1 but from there, Wartburg gradually increased its lead throughout the set and got up by as many as 11 points five times near the end.

In the fourth set, it was the Blugolds who never trailed in the 25-19 victory. The score was tied at 2-2 but the Blugolds were able to stay at least a point ahead the rest of the set. Wartburg got to within one point on four occasions but after the score was 9-8 in Eau Claire's favor, the Blugolds outscored the Knights 7-2 to get up 16-10, and the closest Wartburg got the rest of the way was five points.

In the final set, Wartburg controlled early and led 8-5. After the teams switched sides, the Blugolds scored three in a row to tie the Knights, and the teams went back and forth until another tie (12-12). Eau Claire then scored three straight again to win the set 15-12 and the match 3-2.

Amy Bomgren (Sr.-Woodbury, Minn.) led the match with 23 kills as she hit .409 while Anne Satterlee (Sr.-Green Bay, Wis./Ashwaubenon) recorded 19 kills. The Blugolds finished with 59 kills to 56 for the Knights.

Lauren Sutherland (Jr.-Dayton, Minn./Meadow Creek Christian) had a match-high 24 digs and Emily Neave (Sr.-Salem, Wis./Westosha Central) led with a match-best 52 set assists.

The win for Eau Claire is its sixth in a row and third straight over a nationally-ranked team. The Blugolds now hold a 26-11 overall record while Wartburg ends its season with a 32-6 mark.

Eau Claire now awaits the winner of the St. Thomas (Minn.)-Cornell College (Iowa) match, which is currently being contested in St. Paul. The second round will be played at 7 p.m. Friday at Schoenecker Arena.

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