W (3-2) versus No. 17 Illinois
Wisconsin came out guns blazing in the first set in all facets. Four service aces, four blocks, and thirteen kills went through Illinois like our entire team carried I-PASSes. Unbelievably, Wisconsin would outdo the .444% to .069% hitting in another set, but it took a while.
Illinois did something that No. 7 Minnesota and No. 5 Nebraska couldn’t - take a set from the Badgers. At 8-7, Illinois went on a four-point run, with Jacqueline Quade getting a natural hat trick with three straight kills. Wisconsin couldn’t claw back, and Illinois took it 25-18.
The third and fourth sets were more of a back-and-forth affair. In the third, the Badgers early 12-6 run became 15-all soon after. Illinois timed their first two-point lead wonderfully at 25-23. Next set, Wisconsin once again had a big lead that Illinois eventually tied up, but this time around Wisconsin got to the finish line.
Then in the fifth set, Rettke, Hilley and Barnes served wonderfully and pounded the Illini into the ground, hitting a massive .692 to .000 to take it 15-4.
W (3-0) vs Northwestern
Dana Rettke was wearing a boot, leaving the Badgers with only a bunch of All-Americans to rely on instead of a lot. Nicole Shanahan replaced her in the starting lineup, and wasn’t completely put in a corner, getting 14 swings and a handful of blocks on the night. Northwestern flustered Wisconsin’s attack, goading them into 11 unforced errors. Overall, what really allowed Wisconsin to sweep was stellar service. Wisconsin had eight aces, Northwestern had none.
Elsewhere Around The Conference
Minnesota took it to Illinois, Nebraska beat No. 20 Purdue, No. 8 Penn State took care of Michigan, and we’ve gotten a bit of separation in the standings. Wisconsin leads at 8-0, with the three-team pileup of Minnesota, Nebraska and Penn State next at 7-1. Michigan’s hanging around at 6-2, but that’s the last team above .500 currently.
7-1 teams were also the ones with weekly award winners, as Minnesota’s CC McGraw took her second Defensive Player of the Week, Nebraska’s Madi Kubik took her first Freshman and Player of the Week honors, and Gabby Blossom of Penn State got her first Setter of the Week.
I also can’t get over No. 17 Illinois being 9-8.
Friday, Oct 25th: At Michigan State
Sparty hosts a block party each night they step on the court, averaging 2.84 blocks a set for No. 11 in the nation. That level of intimidation must get into the opposition’s heads, as they also are No. 11 in the nation in opposing hit percentage, a paltry .145.
Interesting note on their attack, it looks like they run two setters in Audrey Alford and Elena Shklyar. Hasn’t worked out great for them, as they’re at 12.25 kills a set.
Sunday, Oct 27: At Michigan
The Wolverines have only lost to two teams above them in the standings in Nebraska and Penn State. This weekend gives them two chances in Minnesota and Wisconsin to actually make it a five-team race at the halfway point of the season.
If Michigan State is known for defense, Michigan’s got the offense. (Where have I heard that before.) They’re third in conference in hitting percentage and second in aces per set. The hitting percentage is weighed down by Sydney Wetterstrom’s 503 attacks leading to just 82 kills - if she’s taking a swing that’s feels like a Badger win already.
THERE’S A SPIDER ON THE BADGER VOLLEYBALL
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