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UW-River Falls volleyball finishes fourth in WIAC

November 14, 2014

The UW-River Falls volleyball team’s 13-20 record may not look very good, but they made it to the final four in the conference tournament, an achievement that they have not accomplished since the 2006 season.

The Falcons finished the season in fourth place in the WIAC. Its conference record was 4-4. Both UW-Stout and UW-Platteville had a 4-4 record, but the Falcons held the tiebreaker and that earned them the fourth seed in the WIAC conference tournament.

In the first round of the conference tournament the Falcons hosted Stout. Going into the game the Falcons already played the Blue Devils twice, with both teams coming out with a victory. The Falcons ended up winning the match three sets to none. Head Coach Patti Ford was pleased with everyone involved with the game

“We had a good supporting crowd around us and we played extremely well,” Ford said.

Ford went on to say that the crowd in the Karges Center was great and the home court advantage played a role in the victory. The Falcons lost its next match against the eventual conference champion UW-Stevens Point, three sets to none.

For the third place game the Falcons were slated to go up against UW-Oshkosh, a team they lost to in 5 sets earlier in the season and Ford expected a similar match.

“The Oshkosh game was a really tough game, we are similar teams, I expected it to go to five,” Ford said.

The match did in fact go five sets; the Falcons won the first two, but ended up losing the next three. The Falcons had a lot of momentum after the first two sets, but a fire alarm went off in the gym and junior captain Lexi Pingel said that the fire alarm was one of the reasons why the Falcons lost.

“In the first two sets we played really well, we made them make mistakes and we minimized ours and in the middle of the third set the fire alarms went off and we didn’t play well after that,” Pingel said.

The fire alarm resulted in a 30-minute break and provided a turning point in the match. Ford does not blame the fire alarm for the team’s downfall.

“I don’t think the fire drill affected us as much as it may have,” Ford said. “We did have momentum leaving the building, but I don’t think that we lost it coming back in.”

Junior Brianna Muetzel, as well as Pingel, both earned spots on the honorable mention All-WIAC conference teams. Pingel was also selected to the All-Defensive team. Sophomore Zandra Malecha was selected to the All-Sportsmanship team. Muetzel led the Falcons with 267 kills, she also had a .159 hitting percentage. She also contributed with 18 service aces and was second on the team in digs.

Pingel led the Falcons with 34 service aces and 550 digs, which is good enough for third best in the WIAC.

The Falcons can now look forward to next year; this year’s team had no seniors, so all of the players will be back. Ford and Pingel both said that the culture will be different next year and with all of the returning experience the team will be expected to win.

“Our expectations for next year will be different, because we were able to achieve getting to the final four of the conference tournament,” Ford said.

The Falcons will have a few weeks off until they start training for next season. After Thanksgiving break the Falcons will do strength and conditioning training three times a week and participate in open gym. Then when March rolls around the falcons will have a few weeks of spring ball.