Badgers off to flying start in Big Ten season

first_imgWisconsin volleyball added yet another win to its already impressive résumé Saturday after defeating Indiana in four sets. They now stand at 13-1 through the first 14 games of the season. Taking on the Indiana Hoosiers (8-5 overall, 0-2 Big Ten) one night after playing Purdue, the Wisconsin Badgers did not seem to bring the same level of energy and enthusiasm as they did for the previous night’s match.Still, the win against Indiana brought Wisconsin to a 2-0 start in the Big Ten for the first time since 2007.“We’re not going to be a team that gets real hyped about that,” head coach Kelly Sheffield said about the 2-0 start. “We talked about it with our team today. Let other people be surprised or overly excited. If you’re dreaming big, then you’re not going to get really stoked about a 2-0 start. That’s just what it is.“We’re going to get more excited about playing the game the right way and being prepared to play and executing. This team feels like they put in the work where they should be winning. That’s the confidence we want our players to have.”The first set was back and forth with a total of 12 ties and seven lead changes. The score did not fluctuate much, with neither team leading by more than two points at a time. Junior Deme Morales paced the Badgers, leading Wisconsin with six kills, one of those being the set winner.Freshmen Lauren Carlini felt Indiana’s ability to catch Wisconsin off guard played a big role in its strong start.“Today it was different because they kind of changed it up on us,” Carlini said. “They did not do what we were expecting, so it took a while to transition and realize that’s not what they are doing.”Senior Annemarie Hickey started the second set with a serve going out of bounds, immediately putting Indiana up. The offense continued to be sluggish, and for much of the set was not hitting as well as Indiana’s .448 clip. The Hoosiers pulled away to take the second set 25-19.A clear transition emerged in game three, however. Wisconsin jumped out to a 5-1 lead to start due to four hitting errors and a service error by Indiana.Morales noticed the difference between games one and two and three and four.“Sometimes they catch you off guard,” Morales said. “They knock you down so many times you just have to get up, you need to get pissed and you have to want to battle back cause if you don’t, they are just going to keep pounding on you. They aren’t going to wait for you to turn your game on. I had to realize I needed to pick my game up.”Freshman Haleigh Nelson was another bright spot for the Badgers against Indiana with three blocks and a kill all in the last four points of the set.Games three and four brought the Badgers back to life as their energy increased on the court. Nelson started the set strong with three kills putting the Badgers up 3-0. The Badgers continued to climb, leading the whole set. Redshirt junior middle blocker Dominique Thompson finished off the Hoosiers with six kills in set four.“Sometimes you gotta take a breath,” Carlini said of Wisconsin’s ability to calm down later in the match. “You need to realize this is what they are doing. It’s hard to do that in the middle of the games when it’s ‘Go, go, go!’ but I definitely think the momentum changed in our favor.”Wisconsin was able to come back due to their blocking and attack percentage. Hitting at a .293 clip, the Badgers outhit Indiana, in addition to outblocking the Hoosiers 7-4.“It’s about being in the right place at the right time and just adjusting and reading,” Carlini said.Badgers derail Boilermakers in straight setsEnthusiasm was running high Friday night at the UW Field House as the Wisconsin volleyball team welcomed Purdue for the Big Ten season opener. With a packed student section, the energy at the field house created an ideal game atmosphere, which the Badgers rode to a hard-fought 3-0 victory.Carlini was pleased with the turnout.“You can tell that it gets in their head, especially on that last game point. When [any one of them] was up to serve with all that noise behind her, it was all in her own head and you can tell,” she said.The Badgers started strong with a kill by 6-foot-3 Nelson. The entirety of the first set was close with the Badgers only trailing once during the set at 4-3, but Wisconsin kept pushing forward. Purdue put up a good fight, staying within a couple points throughout the first set; however, the Boilermakers could not keep up with the Badger blocks. With a .111 hitting percentage the Boilermakers fell behind and the Badgers took the first set.Nelson led the Badger offense with five kills. She finished the night off with eight kills on the night. A lot of strategy went into Friday’s game.Sheffield was pleased with her performance.“Nelson early on gave us a really big lift, her hitting .438 and 7 blocks, I mean she was really physical up there and you know that’s what we need out of her. She held her own and in our Big Ten opener that was really nice to see,” Sheffield said.The Badgers took off during the second set, quickly pulling ahead with a five-point lead and never falling behind after that.The third set was similar to that of the first. The Badgers ran into some trouble towards the second half of the set and almost lost their eight-point lead. Purdue managed to creep up on Wisconsin making the match score 21-20. The end of set three was close as Purdue brought the score to 24-23. Wisconsin pulled through at the end winning on a Purdue service error.“There wasn’t a lot that separated the two teams, it was a pretty even match,” Sheffield said. “[We] have answered the bell at this point, being able to handle adversity. I think that builds a team’s confidence. I thought we showed some real toughness when toughness was needed to be able to close them out.”Purdue, ranked No. 20, put up a good fight Friday night, but the Badgers won with a strong offense, as four players finished the game with six or more kills. Junior Courtney Thomas led the team with 10 kills, Morales and Nelson both with eight kills and redshirt junior Dominique Thompson with six putaways.Morales played all over, leading the team in digs and attacks.“You have to learn to be ready all the time. I think it helps a lot to get a rhythm; you get the whole energy of it all. Everyone did a great job of following the game plan,” Morales said.Friday’s match was the first time since 2007 that the Badgers have swept two ranked opponents. Prior to Friday, they also swept Louisville, ranked No. 17 on Sept. 7.At the end of the game, Carlini and Co. were all smiles.“We have to stick to our slogan: bring it,” she said. “We always think positive and are always looking ahead to the next point. This is what we do. We gotta prove that we want this game more than they do.”last_img

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