Volleyball Comes Up Short In Hard-Fought Loss To UW-Eau Claire

Posted on November 12th, 2015 by


WHITEWATER, Wis. – The Gustavus volleyball team’s dream season came to an end in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday as the Gusties lost in four sets to the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire by scores of 13-25, 25-17, 20-25 and 26-28. Gustavus battled all the way to the end, but came up short to finish the season with a remarkable 27-3 record.

“It was definitely a defensive battle on both sides,” Head Coach Rachelle Sherden said. “It was an incredible effort by both teams. There were a couple times we got stuck out of rotation and they went on a run, and that hurt us in the end.”

The Gusties celebrate a point in front of their fans that made the trip all the way to Whitewater, Wis.

The Gusties celebrate a point in front of their fans that made the trip all the way to Whitewater, Wis.

The Gusties went point-for-point with the Blugolds to start the first set with four ties and one lead change, resulting in a 5-4 advantage for UW-Eau Claire. The Blugolds scored four straight points and the Gusties were never able to recover. Gustavus hit an uncharacteristic -.033 on the attack in the opening frame, while UWEC hit at a .235 clip.

Gustavus found its rhythm in the second set as it scored the first point and never trailed. The Gusties jumped out to a 7-1 lead to force a Blugold timeout. After the break, UWEC fought back and brought the score within four points at 10-6, but the Gusties put the pressure back on and closed out the set on a 6-2 run for an eight-point victory. The Black and Gold posted its highest attack percentage in the second frame at .227 compared to a .062 rate by UWEC.

The third set was back and forth from the onset with 10 ties and six lead changes, but the final lead change was in favor of the Blugolds at 11-10. UWEC scored eight consecutive points to take a comfortable 18-10 lead. The Gusties would not go quietly, though, and went on an 8-2 run to come within two points at 20-18, but the Blugolds took a 2-1 match lead with a 5-2 run to close it out.

The fourth set proved to be the most competitive as the two squads battled for 13 ties and six lead changes. The Blugolds looked to be in control of the match late with a 23-20 lead, but kills from Kelle Nett (Sr., Spring Valley, Ill.) and Taylor Trautman (Jr., Hutchinson, Minn.) brought the game to within one point at 23-22, forcing a UWEC timeout. An attack error and a Blugold kill had them serving for match-point, but once again the Gusties fought back and took a 26-25 lead. It wasn’t meant to be, though, as a pair of kills and an attack error gave the Blugolds a hard-fought 28-26 win.

“I knew that their outsides were going to be really strong and their middles as well,” Sherden said of UW-Eau Claire. “Their right side did a really good job tonight. We knew their offense was going to be really strong and that was something we talked about with the team. They played the scrappiest game that I’ve seen from them. It was hard for us to get the kill, so kudos to them.

“I am extremely proud of my team and everything that they did this season. It’s hard because we are all very close, but they have to hold their heads high after the battle they fought.”

MIAC Player-of-the-Year Alyssa Taylor (Sr., Trimont, Minn.) led the Gustie attack with 13 kills. She also had five blocks. MIAC Rookie-of-the-Year Nora Holtan (Fy., Rochester, Minn.) distributed 34 assists and guided the Gusties to a .137 attack rate. Trautman, an All-MIAC right side hitter, led the back row with 22 digs. All-MIAC libero Brittany Luethmers (Fy., Prior Lake, Minn.) was also a key contributor to the defense with 20 digs.

“I’ve had so much fun this year and it was incredible to play like that,” Trautman said. “We are like a family; every player on this team is like one of my sisters. Our connection the entire year is unshakeable and we take pride in playing Gustie volleyball.”

As part of a strong incoming first-year class, Luethmers echoed Trautman’s statements about the bond of the team.

“I’ve never been on team this close before,” Luethmers said. “I was a little nervous coming in with all these incredible players, but they took me under their wing. All us of freshman feel really close to the upperclassmen.”



  1. Julie Dosch says:

    You all had an incredible run and my heart goes out to you! I love you all and am so proud of each and every one if you!

  2. Kyhl Thomson says:

    Congratulations to the Golden Gustie Volleball team for such a wonderful run this season. This is obviously only the beginning. Thank you Seniors for showing the way to all of our promising underclassmen. Coach Ro and staff, you obviously have your program going in the right direction. Looking forward to Gustie VBall owning the MIAC for many years to come.