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Wisconsin volleyball: No. 4 Badgers take down Northwestern in four sets

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Devyn Robinson had a career day as the Badgers win to stay in the Big Ten title race.

Wisconsin Athletics

Despite a nervy start to the match, the No. 4 Wisconsin Badgers (13-3 Big Ten, 21-3 overall) bounced back after a loss to Purdue on Friday to take care of the Northwestern Wildcats (6-10, 11-16) with a 3-1 (25-27, 25-14, 25-22, 25-20) win on Sunday afternoon.

The Wildcats jumped out to a quick advantage in the first set thanks to some good serving from Temi Thomas-Ailara. She helped guide Northwestern to a 6-11 lead. Soon after, freshman Julia Orzoł took Wisconsin on a 4-0 run to cut the difference to 10-12.

Sophomore Devyn Robinson was out to a strong start to the match as she guided Wisconsin on another 4-0 run that tied things up at 19. Northwestern and Wisconsin traded points and the score was tight towards the end of the set in extra points. Fifth year Grace Loberg had a kill to give UW a chance at set point 25-24, but Northwestern tied it up and finished the set with two aces in a row. The Wildcats had five aces in the first frame and really bothered the Badgers with strong serves.

Wisconsin found their footing in the second set where they hit .621 as they cruised to a 25-14 set win. Robinson was a key part of the Badgers’ attack as she finished with a career high 19 kills while hitting .654 and had four blocks.

The sophomore said she saw Dana Rettke was struggling earlier in the match, and she had to pick up her performance.

“I felt like I had the confidence to go up there and swing at every ball,” Robinson said.

Robinson helped Wisconsin build an early 5-1 lead in the third set, but the Wildcats battled back to tie the frame at 13-13. Rettke started to find herself in this set, combining with setter Sydney Hilley on a block to give UW an 18-14 lead. Rettke finished with 11 kills after having just one in the first set.

Northwestern went on a 3-0 run before a lengthy delay that turned into a review at 18-17. After that, the tide turned back to the Badgers as Rettke had another kill and Devyn Robinson finished off the set with kill No. 16 to give Wisconsin a 25-22 third set win.

Freshman Julia Orzoł — who finished with a double double with 16 kills and 11 digs — had back-to-back kills to give the Badgers a 13-8 lead. The Polish freshman said that she’s learning how to grow into matches even after moments of struggle.

“I feel like especially those last matches teach you how to embrace the adversity and stay with the game and don’t let you change your attitude towards it,” Orzoł said.

The Wildcats again clawed back in the fourth set to get it to 14-13, but key moments from Orzoł and Robinson helped the Badgers over the line 25-20 and stay tied on top of the Big Ten standings.

After being out-blocked by Purdue in a loss Friday, the Badgers out-blocked Northwestern 9-6 and got better touches on the ball either way. Wisconsin also hit .368 on the afternoon, a huge improvement from their loss to the Boilermakers.

The Badgers will hope to keep building momentum as they head into crunch time in the conference race. On Friday, the Badgers will host Michigan State (4-12, 11-14) before a huge match next Sunday against the No. 11 Minnesota Golden Gophers in Minneapolis, with whom they are tied on top of the conference.