After crashing the NCAA Final Four party this week, the Wisconsin women's volleyball team extended its surprising run in a colossal way Thursday night inside Seattle's Key Arena, toppling top-seeded Texas to advance to Saturday night's National Championship match.
The 12th-seeded Badgers jumped out to commanding 2-0 lead in the match, but the Longhorns (27-3) showed their mettle by eking out a third set win. In a hard-fought fourth set that went down to the wire yet again, UW junior Deme Morales hammered home the match-clinching kill to advance Wisconsin by a final score of 25-19, 25-18, 26-28, 25-23.
Wisconsin's attack was spearheaded by junior outside hitter Ellen Chapman, who paced the Badgers with 17 kills. Freshman phenom Lauren Carlini totaled 50 assists in the match after earning regional MVP honors last weekend.
With the big win, Wisconsin improved its record to 28-9 in head coach Kelly Sheffield's first season at UW.
Texas, the defending national champions, had ridden a 23-match winning streak into this semifinal match, making UW's feat all the more incredible. The Badgers were the lone outsider to reach the final weekend of play, as Texas and fellow semifinalists Penn State (No. 2) and Washington (No. 3) were the top three seeds in the tournament. Wisconsin is the lowest-seeded team to ever reach the finals.
Mark your calendars for the NCAA Championship match, set for Saturday night at 8:30 p.m. CT, when the Badgers will face a familiar foe in Penn State (33-2). The Nittany Lions, who swept Wisconsin in two meetings during the Big Ten season, easily dispatched Washington, 3-0 (25-14, 25-13, 25-16) on Thursday.
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