W (3-1) @ No. 7 Minnesota
Mr. Manager already wrote up his recap of his trip to the game, so inspired by Molly Haggerty getting 24 kills, tops for a Badger this season. I’ll focus on the front line’s improvement over the year. I split the games into non-conference, 1st eight games of conference play (to Northwestern at home) then the last eight games.
First, the biggest news - that team attack percentage is going up up up! While you can see who the attacking MVP is for each stretch of eight games, that team percentage is going up 12 points a stretch, meaning the team effort is increasing. The most recent stretch of eight games has had the most kills (non-con = 376, 1st eight = 378, to 2nd eight = 394), most attacks (898, 904 to 926) with the least amount of errors. (122, 111, to 109).
Now, if Wisconsin can avoid having three service errors on set point in a match, they might become unstoppable.
W (3-0) vs Michigan State
Wisconsin started off the match on a 6-0 run, all kills. Then it turned into an absolute grinder as Michigan State soon blocked Dana Rettke enough to get into her head - at one point she had six kills, six errors and got to hang out on the bench for a few rotations. A total of 38 attacking errors, only half blocked, made for some bad numbers all around. Michigan State had four players with sub-zero attack percentages.
Give a ton of credit to Molly Haggerty for managing to rise above the mess and get a match-saving 13-4-28 for .357 line to go with a pair of aces, as well as Rettke being able to come back mentally and contribute five kills to one error to help close out the sweep.
Elsewhere Around The Conference
Minnesota swept No. 23 Michigan off the floor Saturday night, taking almost all of the Wolverines remote chances at a piece of a split title with them. The current standings put the Badgers on top 15-1, with No. 6 Nebraska, No. 7 Minnesota and No. 8 Penn State tied at 14-2. I promise you, the amount of losses on the top-four teams is gonna change quickly. No. 17 Purdue and No. 25 Illinois at 13-12 overall, are still in the coaches poll.
For two matches where she led in kills, Molly Haggerty took home Player of the Week honors. I mean, 5.29 kills a set. What else could you want? Sydney Hilley’s 82 assists at Minnesota made her the obvious Setter of the Week. Illinois’ Morgan O’Brien was Defensive Player of the Week, and Madi Kubik of Nebraska was the Freshman of the Week.
In RPI rankings, Wisconsin slides into 3rd after the massive road win. No. 1 Baylor, No. 2 Texas, and No. 4 Stanford are the other teams in line for hosting a regional. The Bears look for revenge in Waco against the Longhorns Wednesday, so there may be a bit of an opportunity for the Badgers to move up in the next set of rankings.
A Note On Scheduling
Paying closer attention to other teams schedules, I picked up one or two quirks on how the Big 10 volleyball scheduling works. The big one is the idea of ‘travel partners.’ Every team is paired off with the closest in their region, and for the majority of weekends they’ll pair up with another travel partner set. For example, Wisconsin and Minnesota are travel partners, as are Purdue and Indiana. To start the conference season, the Badgers and Gophers hosted the Boilermakers and Hoosiers that weekend, swapping dance partners after the Friday games.
This lead up is all to say that when you see ‘vs Nebraska’ this week and ‘@ Penn State’ next week, keep in the back of your mind that Minnesota has them that week as well.
Friday, Nov 22nd - vs Iowa
Iowa has shown a little more fight than their 3-13 conference record would suggest. They took down a currently-ranked Washington State team on a neutral court, and just took Nebraska to five sets in Lincoln.
But, they also have been swept by Rutgers. They’re worst in conference in opponent hitting percentage and worst in blocks per set. Halle Johnston is second in conference at 4.66 digs a set, so maybe don’t hit it to her? Otherwise, focus on sending Mallory Dixon, M.E. Dodge, Sarah Dodd, Tiffany Clark and Madison Duello out in style.
Sunday, Nov 24th - vs Nebraska
Since the Badgers went into Lincoln, hit .376 and swept the Cornhuskers, they’ve split their series against Purdue and took down Penn State at home. They’re dangerous on both sides of the floor, third in Big 10 attacking percentage at .268 and a jaw-dropping .139 opponent hitting percentage, sixth nationally.
Looking back at the first matchup’s boxscore, given how very even the stats were it’s surprising it was a sweep. The one place Wisconsin really shined was at the service line - Nebraska had zero aces and 10 errors, Wisconsin had three aces and seven errors. Given the Badgers recent struggles, that’s a big concern for the rematch.
How To Watch
If you can’t make it to the Field House this weekend, Friday’s Senior Day against Iowa at 7:30 is trapped on BTN+, but the top-ten showdown against the Huskers on Sunday at 1:30 gets the full BTN treatment.
Can social media learn from Penn Volleyball?
Absolutely. There needs to be consequences for ‘vulgar, offensive, and disrespectful posters.’