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WIAC Women's Volleyball Preview

08/14/2019, 2:00pm CDT
By WIAC

--From the WIAC--

MADISON, Wis.--University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, the defending conference champion, has been selected to claim the 2019 Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) women’s volleyball title, according to a preseason poll conducted by the league’s head coaches and sports information directors.

The regular-season crown a season ago was the sixth in program history for the Blugolds, who also won their second WIAC tournament title. UW-Eau Claire reached the semifinals of the NCAA Division III championship for the first time in program history and posted 33 victories, which were the most since the 1989 squad had 37 wins.

Five starters are back from the 2018 campaign, including junior middle hitter Krista Meyer, who topped the WIAC with 154 blocks and placed sixth with a .258 hitting percentage. Sophomore outside hitter Arianna Barrett was third in the league with a .303 hitting percentage and sixth with 315 kills. Head coach Kim Wudi needs 13 wins to reach 300 in her career. She would become the 11th coach in league history to achieve the milestone.

The Blugolds are followed in the conference predictions by:  UW-Whitewater; UW-La Crosse; UW-Stevens Point; UW-Stout; UW-Oshkosh; UW-River Falls; and UW-Platteville.

UW-Whitewater boasts a league-best 16 regular-season titles and 16 tournament crowns. The Warhawks have received 30 bids into the NCAA Division III championship, including 26 of the last 27 sesaons. This year’s team includes senior middle hitter Ashton Doll, who finished second in the conference in 2018 with 138 blocks, including a league-high 11 against University of St. Thomas (Minn.) on Oct. 5. Senior outside hitter Rachel Butterfield placed seventh in the WIAC with a .250 hitting percentage, while sophomore outside hitter Erin McNeil was ninth with a .241 hitting percentage and 299 kills. Head coach Stacy Boudreau is 18 victories from reaching 500 in her career.

UW-La Crosse returns 13 letterwinners from the 2018 campaign, including sophomore outside hitter Emma Lawrence, who finished fifth in the WIAC with 318 kills and ninth with 3.08 points per set. Junior libero/defensive specialist Julia Van Fleet was fifth in the league with 572 digs, including a 43-dig performance against University of St. Thomas (Minn.) on Sept. 7. Senior setter Abbey Fox ranked fourth in the conference with 875 assists.

UW-Stevens Point has recorded four WIAC wins in each of the last four years and welcomes back all seven starters from the 2018 squad. A season ago, senior outside hitter April Gehl led the conference with 582 kills and 5.25 points per set, while ranking fifth with a .271 hitting percentage. She also added 487 digs and recorded at least 20 kills in 12 matches, including a league-best 35 kills against Concordia University (Wis.) on Sept. 7. Sophomore middle blocker Maddie Lawson was fourth in the WIAC with a .279 hitting percentage and 112 blocks. Junior setter Ellie Adams was second in the conference with 1,076 assists.

UW-Stout’s four conference victories last season were the most since the 2014 campaign. Five starters are back from that group, including senior libero Steph Cannon, who placed third in the WIAC with 675 digs. She registered at least 34 digs in four contests. Sophomore outside hitter Lexie Nelson had a team-best 32 service aces, while placing second with 249 kills. Junior outside hitter Amber Ripley finished third with 237 kills.

UW-Oshkosh senior outside hitter Samantha Jaeke posted 129 kills, 66 digs and 45 blocks in 2018, while senior libero Rachel Gardner accumulated 565 digs. Sophomore middle blocker Taylor Allen finished fifth in the league with 103 blocks, while junior middle blocker/outside hitter Shelby Coron was third on the team with 59 blocks.

UW-River Falls has accumulated 35 wins over the last two seasons, representing its best two-year stretch since 2012-13. Senior libero Hannah Robb ranked second in the conference with 691 digs and fifth with 45 service aces. She had a league-high eight service aces against Milwaukee School of Engineering on Oct. 27, 2018. Head coach Patti Ford enters her 28th season at the helm needing 12 victories to reach 600 in her career. She would become the fifth coach in conference history to reach the milestone. Her 28 years match UW-Platteville’s Deb Schulman (1998-2015) for the most in league archives.

UW-Platteville brings back all seven starters from a season ago, including sophomore outside hitter/defensive specialist Olivia Kudronowicz, who had a team-best 401 digs, 225 kills and 40 service aces. Senior middle hitter Katie Jones topped the squad with 77 blocks and sophomore setter CJ Johnson had 617 assists and 34 service aces.

2019 Preseason Predictions--Voted on by WIAC Head Coaches and Sports Information Directors

                                                                2018 Record

1. UW-Eau Claire                              33-4 overall, 7-0 WIAC

2. UW-Whitewater                          25-8, 6-1

3. UW-La Crosse                               16-13, 4-3

4. UW-Stevens Point                      18-16, 4-3

5. UW-Stout                                       16-13, 4-3

6. UW-Oshkosh                                17-15, 2-5

7. UW-River Falls                              16-19, 1-6

8. UW-Platteville                              9-23, 0-7

Team Capsules

UW-Eau Claire

Head Coach:  Kim Wudi; 13th season at UWEC; 287-133

Letterwinners Returning/Lost:  11/5

Starters Returning/Lost:  5/2

Returning All-WIAC:  Makenzie Bachmann, Jr., OH (2018-Honorable); Arianna Barrett, So., OH (2018-First); Krista Meyer, Jr., MH (2018-First)

Notable Returning Players:  Kendra Baierl, Jr., MH; Libby Macken, So., S; Taylor Scalia, Jr., DS; Abby Volk, So., MH

UW-La Crosse

Head Coach:  Amber Dunn; 5th season (3rd at UWL); 71-53 (overall) / 38-20 (UWL)

Letterwinners Returning/Lost:  13/3

Starters Returning/Lost:  5/2

Returning All-WIAC:  Emma Lawrence, So., OH (2018-First); Julia Van Fleet, Jr., L/DS (2018-Defensive)

Notable Returning Players:  Abbey Fox, Sr., S; Liz Lansink, So., MB; Rhiana Pochman, Jr., MB; Sophie Quelle, So., L/DS

UW-Oshkosh

Head Coach:  Jon Ellmann; 3rd season at UWO; 37-30

Letterwinners Returning/Lost:  11/6

Starters Returning/Lost:  5/2

Returning All-WIAC:  Rachel Gardner, Sr., L (2018-Honorable); Samantha Jaeke, Sr., RSH/OH (2016-First, 2017-First, 2018-Honorable)

Notable Returning Players:  Taylor Allen, So., MB; Becky Brezen, So., DS; Shelby Coron, Jr., MB/RSH; Emma Kiekhofer, So., S

UW-Platteville

Head Coach:  Samantha Birkicht; 3rd season at UWP; 24-37

Letterwinners Returning/Lost:  10/1

Starters Returning/Lost:  7/0

Returning All-WIAC:  None

Notable Returning Players:  Kaite Asche, So., MH; CJ Johnson, So., S/RSH; Katie Jones, Sr., MH; Olivia Kudronowicz, So., OH/DS

UW-River Falls

Head Coach:  Patti Ford; 28th season at UWRF; 588-383

Letterwinners Returning/Lost:  14/4

Starters Returning/Lost:  6/1

Returning All-WIAC:  Karli Nielsen, Sr., MH (2018-Honorable); Hannah Robb, Sr., L (2016-Defensive, 2018-Honorable, 2018-Defensive)

Notable Returning Players:  Mallory Griffin, Sr., S/RSH; Dakota Poitra, Sr., OH; Hannah Striggow, Sr., OH

UW-Stevens Point

Head Coach:  Lyndsay Kooi; 2nd season at UWSP; 18-16

Letterwinners Returning/Lost:  14/5

Starters Returning/Lost:  7/0

Returning All-WIAC:  Ellie Adams, Jr., S (2018-Honorable); April Gehl, Sr., OH (2017-First, 2018-First); Maddie Lawson, So., MB (2018-Honorable)

Notable Returning Players:  Tara Emme, Sr., RSH; Emma Peterson, So., L/DS

UW-Stout

Head Coach:  Mandy Trautmann; 2nd season at UWST; 16-13

Letterwinners Returning/Lost:  10/4

Starters Returning/Lost:  5/2

Returning All-WIAC:  Steph Cannon, Sr., L (2017-Honorable, 2017-Defensive, 2018-First, 2018-Defensive); Lexie Nelson, So., OH (2018-Honorable); Amber Ripley, Jr., OH (2018-Honorable)

Notable Returning Players:  Jessica DuVal, Sr., S; McKylie Hoff, Sr., MH; Emily Makina, Sr., DS; Kara Simonson, Sr., RSH

UW-Whitewater

Head Coach:  Stacy Boudreau; 18th season (15th at UWW); 482-148 (overall) / 412-111 (UWW)

Letterwinners Returning/Lost:  11/8

Starters Returning/Lost:  5/2

Returning All-WIAC:  Rachel Butterfield, Sr., OH/RSH (2018-Honorable); Ashton Doll, Sr., MH (2018-First); Erin McNeil, So., OH (2018-First)

Notable Returning Players:  Emma Aske, So., OH; Emily Gillen, So., OH; Paige Manssen, So., S; KellyAnn Sotiros, So., S

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