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The Sett, Week 8: Illinois, Northwestern

Another stellar week of volleyball in the books and now the Badgers set their sights on the state of Illinois.

Tom Lynn

W (3-0) at Northwestern

Temi Thomas-Ailara is a fantastic player and it’s crazy that she’s just a freshman. The way she launches the ball is a real treat to watch, unless you’re tasked with trying to slow it down.

It took a bit before the Badgers were able to do so consistently, but the rest of the current Wildcat roster couldn’t support their star to pull off the upset.

W (3-0) vs No. 7 Minnesota

Early on, it was clear Minnesota’s game plan was to focus on defending Badger attacks. The Gopher blocks were really excellent, and balls that got past the front line were dug cleanly. But, their attacks were telegraphed and rarely felt especially dangerous. There’s certainly some teams that would make a hitting error when presented with repeated opportunities, but Sunday Wisconsin was absolutely not one of those teams.

Wisconsin was able to break down the Gophers defense, making the blockers chase attacks and land kills more and more as the match went on. The match-clinching third set had Wisconsin notch 22 kills. That’s absurd, and it was fantastic to see the offense perform at that high of a level.

Since dropping set one against Penn State, the Badgers have rattled off 12 straight sets. They’ve done it against three different top-10 teams, including the first Big 10 conference sweep Nebraska ever suffered in Lincoln. Wisconsin volleyball looks like it’s shook off the non-conference issues and put everything together to win a conference crown and make a deep postseason run.

Elsewhere Around The Conference

No. 5 Nebraska did the needful and gave Michigan a loss, putting Wisconsin at the top of the conference standings as the only 6-0 squad. Minnesota took down the #17 Illini Wednesday as well, and that preseason No. 6 ranking is not holding up much at all.

Dana Rettke (Player) and Sydney Hilley (Setter, her second win in a row) took home the weekly Big 10 honors. I am obligated to mention that Rettke’s attacking line is 192-35-374 for a .420 hitting percentage. (Editor’s note: nice.) No. 8 Penn State’s Kendell White as the Defensive Player and the aforementioned Temi Thomas-Ailara as Freshman.

Friday, Oct 18th - Illinois (9-6)

The Illini have a handful of quality wins (No. 20 Purdue and No. 12 Marquette) and some really head-scratching losses to Colorado, Central Florida and Illinois State. They’re led by Jacqueline Quade on the front line, who’s getting 4.39 kills a set and notches an ace a game to boot. Overall, they’re surprisingly middle of the road in just about all the conference stats.

I’d honestly rather mention that Nebraska will play Illinois to start 2021 in Ireland. In football even!

Saturday, Oct 19th - Northwestern

The first Big 10 opponent to show up twice on the schedule, they were probably unable to develop their game plan of ‘get Temi the ball more’ in the last two weeks. They were too busy getting swept three times in four matches - thanks for letting them have an ounce of dignity Indiana.

How To Watch

Friday’s 8 PM match is on BTN, but Saturday’s 7 PM game is on BTN Plus. But, try to get tickets if you’re in Madison because the Badgers only play at the Field House once between now and November 16th. I will not be in Madison. I will be at the Illinois football game against Wisconsin. Will I wear a Wisconsin rugby shirt asking Champaign-Urbana bartenders to put the Illinois volleyball game on a TV? You bet your sweet bippy!

Other Games Of Note

Purdue has another chance to prove they deserve to be ranked by heading into Lincoln this Wednesday. Friday, Penn State takes on the Wolverines, and Saturday night Illinois battles Minnesota.