The No. 11 ranked Knight’s volleyball team blew a 2-1 match lead and an 8-5 lead in set five in a 3-2 upset loss to Wisconsin-Eau Claire in the first round of the NCAA Division III Volleyball Tournament in St. Paul, Minn. Thursday.
Despite a service error on Karly Bown on the first point of the game, the Knights led for most of set one.
Britlyn Sieck responded with a kill to tie the game at one and Sieck put the Knights up 3-2 with another kill three points later.
Wartburg fell behind 5-3 but used five straight points including two kills by Maddie Forsyth, who had six in the set, to take a 9-4 lead.
The Knights never trailed in the set though the Blugolds came within one point twice at 17-16 and 20-19. An error on the next point by UW-Eau Claire on each point put the Knights up by two en route to a 25-21win.
Set two went back and forth until a 7-1 Blugold run put UW-Eau Claire up 18-11. The Blugolds went on to tie the match with a 25-17 win in set two.
Set three was all Knights as Wartburg never trailed in a convincing 25-14 victory.
The Knights needed to win just one of the remaining two sets with all of the momentum on their side to advance to the second round.
No problem, right? After all, Wartburg came in as favorites with a 32-5 record against the unranked Blugolds.
UW-Eau Claire, which beat two nationally ranked teams to win the WIAC Tournament title and qualify for the NCAA Tournament, had other ideas.
The Blugolds only trailed once, 2-1, in set four and forced a fifth set with a 25-19 victory.
Tension was high in set five as one team soon faced elimination while the other would move on.
UW-Eau Claire took a 3-2 lead on Kelly Schuh’s kill, but Wartburg responded in a big way as Bailey Wilson and Britlyn Sieck teamed up for a block and each had a kill to take a 5-3 lead.
Freshman Libby Creery blocked Schuh to put Wartburg up 8-5 as the teams changed sides, seven points away from advancing.
But UW-Eau Claire scored four straight points after the timeout including three of Amy Bomgren’s 23 kills on the night.
A kill by Marissa Shinstine tied the set at 12 but Anne Satterlee’s kill, a ball handling error on Ramey Sieck and another kill from Satterlee clinched the 15-12 set five victory for UW-Eau Claire, giving them a 3-2 win over Wartburg.
Britlyn Sieck had 18 kills in her final match as a Knight while Maddie Forsyth had 15 and Kelly Niemann added 10.
The Knights had a .280 to .272 advantage in hitting percentage and committed eight fewer errors but could not stop Bomgren and Satterlee.
The two combined for 42 kills and Bomgren had a .409 hitting percentage to lead UW-Eau Claire to the upset victory.
Wartburg’s season comes to an end with a 32-6 record while UW-Eau Claire advances to the second round Friday.
Senior captain Britlyn Sieck tweeted three and a half hours after the team’s loss to UW-Eau Claire:
Sieck ends her career has a Knight volleyball player as a four-time all-IIAC performer. She was the only senior on this year’s volleyball team. Sieck will now turn her attention to the track and field season where she earned All-American honors in the outdoor season in both shot put and discus.
ST. THOMAS REGIONAL: THURSDAY’S FIRST ROUND GAMES
No. 24 St. Benedict (28-5) 3, Dominican (24-9) 0 (25-15, 25-23, 25-18)
Northwestern (27-8) 3, No. 19 Wisconsin-Stevens Point (29-8) 2 (20-25, 25-23, 22-25, 25-20, 15-12)
Wisconsin-Eau Claire (26-11) 3, No. 11 Wartburg (32-6) 2 (21-25, 25-17, 14-25, 25-19, 15-12)
No. 8 St. Thomas (35-1) 3, Cornell (20-11) 2 (25-13, 17-25, 19-25, 25-15, 15-12)
FRIDAY’S SECOND ROUND
4:30 p.m.- No. 24 St. Benedict (28-5) vs. Northwestern (27-8)
7 p.m.- No. 8 St. Thomas (35-1) vs. Wisconsin-Eau Claire (26-11)