W (3-0) vs Iowa
We’re going to be talking a heavy dose of the front row, starting with... defensive specialist M.E. Dodge?
She’s been good for a kill a season, so why not notch it on her Senior Night? The more traditional Badger hitters didn’t have her one shot, one kill night, but absolutely poured it on a confused Hawkeyes team to the tune of a .410 hitting percentage.
Double-digit kills by Dana Rettke (15), Danielle Hart (11 on no errors) and Madison Duello (10) led the balanced Badger attack. Defensively, they combined for 11 blocks - once again led by Rettke’s eight block assists. Would you be surprised to find out Rettke also had three aces, because you should not be.
Some matches, the sweep is a touch misleading. For Iowa, the end of the third set couldn’t come soon enough.
W (3-0) vs No. 6 Nebraska
I was not in this line. I was at Greenbush Bakery getting lunch. Those donuts were the second-sweetest thing of my afternoon, as the Badgers swept Nebraska out of the gym 25-19, 25-22, 25-21. All three sets started off as tight affairs, but the Badgers were the first to hit 15 points in each set, and Nebraska never led in any set after that benchmark.
The first two sets were defined by excellent attacking on both sides of the court. Nebraska hit for a fine 29-5-73-.333, but couldn’t keep pace with Wisconsin’s blistering 38-6-80-.400. The final set, not so much, as both teams doubled their error count by hitting into effective blocks. Opposing errors count the same as your kills, and Wisconsin was able to do better in both areas to put the Huskers away.
Pay attention to Rettke when she gets the kill - she has that fire when she’s on the bench.
Once again, an extremely balanced attack by the front line - Molly Haggerty’s 16-7-41-.220 led the team in kills (yay!), errors (boo!) and attacks (ambivalent), while Rettke had a wonderful 12-0-25-.480 day at the office. Duello, Grace Loberg and Hart all chipped in at least seven more kills. This has become an exceedingly dangerous front line, no matter what rotation the team is in. Nebraska is a top 10 opponent, and the Badgers hit above their season average against them.
Elsewhere Around The Conference
Friday’s showdown between Nebraska and No. 8 Minnesota saw the Gophers come back from a 2-0 deficit to force the fifth set, including winning the fourth 25-10. Then... I’ll let someone who was there sum up the rest:
Dana Rettke was your well-deserving B1G Player of the Week, putting in 27 kills against two errors, three aces with a baker’s dozen worth of blocks. Sydney Hilley was Setter of the Week for getting over 15 assists a set, which if she founded her own college would lead all other NCAA teams. No. 16 Purdue’s Marissa Horning was Defensive Player of the Week, and Diana Brown from No. 24 Illinois took home Freshman honors.
Let’s talk conference title scenarios, starting with the most complicated!
- Wisconsin loses their last two games, Minnesota beats No. 7 Penn State and Rutgers, and Nebraska wins their last two: 4-way split title between the Badgers, Gophers, Nittany Lions and Huskers.
- Wisconsin loses their last two games, Minnesota beats Penn State and Rutgers, and Nebraska drops one: 3-way split title between the Badgers, Gophers and Lions.
- Wisconsin loses their last two games, Penn State beats Minnesota: Penn State takes the title.
- Penn State beats Wisconsin and Minnesota, Wisconsin wins against Rutgers: Badgers and Lions split the title.
- Penn State beats Wisconsin, Minnesota beats Penn State, Wisconsin beats Rutgers: Badgers get the solo crown.
- Wisconsin beats Penn State: Badgers get the solo crown.
Friday, Nov 29th: @ No. 7 Penn State
So you want to be Big 10 champion. Just go into a place you’ve only won once in the past 15ish years, where the 2013 National Championship banner hangs instead of your 2013 National Runner-Up. No sweat.
The more recent history against the Nittany Lions is much kinder to Wisconsin. Last year was that single victory in University Park, PA, and this year’s 3-1 match against them was the sorbet removing the taste of a 4-4 non-conference record and kickstarting this 17-1 run.
Since they visited Madison, Penn State lost in Lincoln, beat Illinois twice and... beat Purdue? That’s it? So when I say ‘Penn State’s second in the conference in attack percentage and opposing attack percentage’, take it with the huge caveat that they ain’t played nobody. They’re a force up front with two of the most accurate attackers in the league in Serena Gray (.368) and Kaityln Hord (.427), who also can block effectively.
Saturday, Nov 30th: @ Rutgers
THIS TEAM IS NOT VERY GOOD.
They’re worst in the conference in hitting percentage, second-worst at opponent hitting percentage, they get aced the most frequently. They currently sit at 2-16 in conference, which already doubles their previous best win total in B1G play. Rutgers lost their only NCAA appearance back in 1982. Is the New York City media market worth this?
What does Nebraska bring to the table again?
It was supposed to be football. It used to be women’s volleyball.