All-around effort propels Badgers to victory over Huskers

first_imgThe Wisconsin volleyball team took a broom to the court once again as the Badgers swept their sixth team in a row and collected their ninth consecutive win against No. 14 Nebraska.The match was filled with vigorous play by both teams consisting of nine tie scores and four lead changes. But in the end, the Badgers were able to earn a historic win against Nebraska; something that Wisconsin has not done for 36 years.In Wisconsin’s journey toward doubling its all-time win total against the Huskers, setter Lauren Carlini was a huge contributor to the Badgers’ three-set win.“I thought [Carlini] owned the match today. I thought she was totally in control,” head coach Kelly Sheffield said. “She executed the game plan great. She announced her presence with authority offensively. I thought she did a masterful job in all aspects.”Carlini was on fire from the get-go Sunday afternoon. The sophomore was aggressive at the net and utilized the second contact to her advantage as she amounted eight kills off tips, which gave her the team’s best hitting percentage at .643. Carlini even had one kill off a big swing from a Nebraska overpass during the second set, which raised her total to nine kills overall.“It’s always awesome to get overpasses,” Carlini said. “It felt good to be able to attack, but it also feels good to be able to set my hitters and have them get kills at the same time. So while I’m being effective, they can also be effective.”Carlini did more for her team than just convert points off tips. She served at 100 percent, which included one ace due to the error of Nebraska’s libero to close out the second set for Wisconsin. As a setter, Carlini also contributed 34 assists in addition to three of Wisconsin’s eight total blocks.“That’s a tough team because those outsides will tool your block like there’s no tomorrow,” Sheffield said. “I know that was a big challenge for [Carlini] and Courtney [Thomas] out there on the right side today, and I thought that they did a great job of rising to the challenge.”Blocking helped the Badgers hold the Cornhuskers to 37 team kills and a .132 hitting percentage, compared to their own 46 kills at a .265 hitting clip. Wisconsin did not go error-free at the net, but the Badgers did not make any unforced blocking errors, whereas Nebraska tallied four.Defense covered the entire floor all afternoon.In the back row players scrambled everywhere just to get even a touch on any balls coming their way during rallies. Throughout the game, it was rare to observe a rally without witnessing at least two players hit the floor in either an attempted or successful dig for Wisconsin.Freshman Kelli Bates and the senior Thomas both passed at 94 percent and senior Deme Morales contributed five passes of her own at 100 percent accuracy off Nebraska’s serves, as Wisconsin finished the match passing as a team at 94 percent.The Badgers dug 56 balls against the Cornhuskers. Libero Taylor Morey was responsible for more than half of these. She continues to maintain her title as the Big Ten leader in digs per set with an average of 5.33. But Sunday, Morey eclipsed her usual numbers after she ended the first set with 13 digs.Her efforts do not go unnoticed by her fellow teammates.“It creates so much more momentum for our side,” Carlini said about her teammate. “When we see her get these crazy good ups it makes every one else so excited for it and it makes us want to transition and kill immediately. So just knowing that she’s working her butt off for us it makes us want to work harder for her.”Morey tied her career high with 29 digs and set the UW record for a three-set match, but the entire team contributed on the defensive end of things. Whether it was blocking, passing or picking up any ball they could, the Badgers worked the net and the backcourt leaving few balls unaccounted for.When asked about her accomplishment of tying her career-high since her match against Colorado State, Morey gave credit to her blockers. She said they make her job easier in the backcourt and that she could not have done so well without the help of her team.“Some people shrink when the lights get a little bit brighter. Taylor Morey is not one of those [people],” Sheffield said. “You’re seeing a player who’s getting better and better and more and more confident.”last_img read more

Badgers sweep Purdue, take Big Ten title outright

first_imgFor the first time since 2001, the Wisconsin volleyball team won the Big Ten Championship courtesy of a three-set sweep of Purdue at the UW Field House Friday night.When senior Courtney Thomas delivered the final kill, the Badgers had accomplished something they’d set out to do since the early summer months.“It’s awesome. You dream of it, you go to bed at night and you’re thinking about it. You’re like ‘What’s it going to be like? What am I going to do when I win this?’ But it’s nothing like the dream, it’s 10 times better and it was amazing with this senior class and our team,” Thomas said. “It’s something you look forward to your whole career and not many people get to experience it so it’s absolutely amazing.”Wisconsin had claimed at least a share of the title with Penn State Wednesday night when they defeated Rutgers on the road in three sets, but claimed it for themselves with the win against Purdue.“Who wants to share a Big Ten title?” Thomas said. “When we were at Rutgers and we won, we just didn’t feel like we were the Big Ten champs. It just didn’t feel right after we won. And we’re on the bus and we’re all talking and it was like ‘No, we’re not going to share this thing. We’re playing at home on Friday against Purdue and we’re going to go out there and win this thing outright.’”The championship comes on the heels of a school-record 19-match winning streak, a run that will last for more than two months by the next time UW takes the court. Their last loss, and lone loss in conference play, came Sept. 24 against Penn State.In addition to the title-clinching match, the team honored its seven seniors in their final regular season match.Ellen Chapman, a cornerstone of the highly-touted recruiting class that is now entering its final collegiate matches, had nine kills in the match. The always reliable senior Dominique Thompson had four kills.Deme Morales, Julie Mikaelsen, Kt Kvas and Caroline Workman were the other four seniors honored in addition to Chapman, Thomas and Thompson.Thomas led the way for the Badgers with a double-double consisting of a team-high 12 kills and 10 digs. Freshman Kelli Bates killed 10 balls on the night as well.The Badgers only trailed once the entire match, adjusting to the slow starts to sets that had plagued them at several points throughout the season.“We jumped on them. Purdue kept battling, and we kept fighting as well,” Sheffield said. “Sometimes when you get out in that early lead, you can relax. I didn’t see that from us. I thought we kept our composure and continued to fight.”One thing that stood out to Sheffield on this special night was the sellout crowd of 6,012.“The fans were into it. My goodness, it was 15 degrees outside, and two hours before the match, there was a line outside my office window waiting to get in. We have some crazy Badger fans here,” Sheffield said. “They stuck around for I don’t know how long that ceremony was. The support we’re getting is incredible. Our team absolutely thrives off of it.”For the Badgers, the title is simply a stepping stone to the next level — a national championship.“I think that we can soak in this feeling a little bit for about a day, and then Sunday is going to come and we’re going to get locked in again. Just be preparing and getting in the gym and getting better for whoever our first opponent is,” Chapman said. “I think that we can enjoy it a little right now but it’s going to be quick turnaround before we start preparing.”last_img read more