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The Sett, The Match, The Crown

Badger volleyball earns the Big 10 title!

UW Athletics Department; @BadgerVB

L (2-3) @ Penn State

This one hurt.

Needing to take one of three sets to capture an outright Big 10 title, the Wisconsin Badgers lost their killer edge, deciding to play not to lose in a game where you can’t run out the clock.

With that edge, oh buddy, they looked outstanding. The first set featured the single most dominant offense they’ve had all season, hitting 18-2-25 for a mind-bending .640 attack. Everyone on the front line was finding gaps in Penn State’s defense, they couldn’t be blocked, they couldn’t be reasoned with and your Zombie Nation only made them stronger. The second set saw a more reasonable .333 attack, but five blocks meant that the Nittany Lions weren’t doing better at all.

Then intermission happened, and it all went away. Wisconsin had eight kills and eight errors in the third set, hitting for a big ol’ goose egg. Penn State’s digs became great sets, throwing Wisconsin off their rhythm. Penn State ran it to 10-5, 17-8, and a demoralizing 25-12, wrapping a 14-point streak around the end of the third set to start the fourth 7-0. Somehow, the Badgers fought back quickly bringing it to 12-12 before the teams traded one-point leads for ties back and forth. Penn State was able to string together four points to make it 22-19, and Wisconsin couldn’t push the set into extra points.

In the deciding fifth, Penn State jumped out to a quick 8-3 lead by getting kills from all over the court. Once again, Wisconsin fought to be down a point at 10-9, but a service error followed by an attack error pumped even more energy into the home crowd and helped propel Penn State to the finish line.

W (3-0) @ Rutgers

There’s a trope where people in a position of power, after being usurped, attempt to prove they still can control something by taking their frustrations out on someone perceived as lesser.

Wisconsin hit for .367, Rutgers hit for .125. The Scarlet Knights, who are now 3-117 in their Big 10 volleyball history, only hung with the Badgers in the third set, getting it to 21-21 before Wisconsin rattled off the last four points of the regular season.

W (18-2) vs Big 10

Elsewhere Around The Conference With Teams That Did Not Win A Big 10 Volleyball Title In 2019

Northwestern defended their Senior Night honor against the Flailing Illini (went there, not sorry), possibly pushing them out of the NCAA tournament. Michigan took Purdue to five sets in Ann Arbor before falling.

LET’S SEE THOSE CHAMPIONSHIP HATS!

H-A-T! H-A-T! HAT! HAT! HAT!

What’s Next

Wisconsin finds out their NCAA tournament destiny Sunday night. Based on current RPI, they’re a lock to host the first two games at the Field House. Fingers crossed it’s a Thursday-Friday round, because Saturday is pretty booked with Wisconsin sports as it is. We’ll preview the pod, as well as discuss the Big 10 season and awards later this week.