The No. 4 Wisconsin Badgers (27-6) volleyball steamrolled the No. 1 Baylor Bears (29-2) in the national semifinals three sets to one, 25-27, 25-21, 25-17, 25-19, to advance to the national title game on Saturday evening against the winner of the No. 7 Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. No. 3 Stanford Cardinal match.
The University Of Wisconsin Badgers women’s volleyball team will play for a national title on Saturday.
Let that sentence sink in before we talk about how they got there. NCAA championship. It’s like an oak or maple base, nice golden circle in the middle, little plaque denoting the team, year and division. Badgers are a game away from bringing one back to Madison.
OK. That second game against Baylor? We threw some fire, but it took a while to explode.
The entire first set was played in a two-point window. Both teams hit slightly below their season average, as the block was really hot early on minus four for each team. It felt like a bit of the Mad Men quote from Lane Pryce about being late for the English World Cup match - ‘The first half is just flirting.’ Both teams were trying to adapt to the extremely high level their opponent presented all throughout the first set. On Yossian Pressley’s six kills, Baylor eeks out the first set 27-25, but absolutely credit Hilley’s soft toss kill to get it that far.
After that, Wisconsin would end each set with 25 points the fun way like what you want. The flirting continued, as a combination of quality kills and sloppy passes led to long rallies early. The Badger’s early 7-5 and 11-8 leads went to 12-11 Baylor awfully quick, until Izzy Ashburn’s serving got Baylor out of sorts to repair the lead. Sydney Hilley served a 5-0 run to push the game to 22-16, and a Rettke kill secured the bag at 25-21.
In the third set, Wisconsin’s early 6-2 lead was erased after a Baylor challenge. Dana Rettke’s serving pushed it back to a four point lead at 10-6, and at Baylor’s timeout the TV pans over the Wisconsin fans.
I look up hotels in Omaha for the 2020 finals.
Baylor goes on a 6-3 run to whittle the lead to a point, but Wisconsin responds with a mighty 10-3 run, with four straight Rettke kills to punctuate the hurt. Wisconsin grabs the match lead 2-1 on a Molly Haggerty kill to close it out at 25-17.
A brief interlude on Molly Haggerty’s efforts in this match: they were outstanding. She converted some difficult sets into attacks that Baylor had trouble dealing with, and converted quality passes into screaming kills. If Rettke drew attention, Haggerty saw the wider openings. Also, I love the untucked No. 23, have all season.
In the fourth set that, if you’re just joining us, sent the Wisconsin Badgers to the national championship match, the early momentum swung wildly. Baylor got to a 14-10 lead on the strength of a 5-0 run and switching their attack to Shelly Sheffield. Once again, the Badgers responded with a massive, set-clinching, national championship appearance making 9-1 run on the absolute hell that is four blocks in that short time.
Match point was created by Molly Haggerty’s kill. Dana Rettke punched the ticket with authority.
Haggerty had an outstanding match with 15 kills and nine digs. Three time All-American Rettke led the team with 19 kills, three aces and seven block assists. Tiffany Clark has to be a genetic freak of nature because there is no way she only has two arms. Clark had 18 digs, six assists and added one service ace of her own. Hilley had 43 assists, two kills, three service aces, four block assists and seven digs to fill the stat sheet up fully.
Baylor’s Pressley had 25 kills and 16 digs but she also had a dozen errors and only hit .191 (25-12-68) on the match. Hannah Lockin had 44 assists, to beat Hilley by one, and seven digs.
We will keep this post updated tonight with quotes and such once we have them.
THE BADGERS ARE GOING TO THE FINALS!!!!