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Wisconsin volleyball vs. Nebraska: how to watch, match preview, open thread

The Big Ten title is on the line. What else do we need to say?

Wisconsin Athletics

The No. 5 Wisconsin Badgers (23-3 overall, 15-3 Big Ten) have their first major goal of the season in their sight. Early on Friday evening, the Badgers welcome the No. 11 Nebraska Cornhuskers (20-6 overall, 15-3 Big Ten) to the UW Field House with a share of the Big Ten title on the line. Not much more you can ask for than to play for the conference title on your home floor.

The winner of Friday’s Nebraska-Wisconsin match will earn at least a share of the Big Ten championship and the chance to capture the title outright with a victory the following night. Should the Badgers and Huskers split their two matches this weekend, Purdue can earn a share of the title by winning its final two matches at home.

Nebraska junior outside hitter Madi Kubik leads the team with 3.45 kills per set, followed by senior middle blocker Lauren Stivrins with 2.42 kills per set. Callie Schwarzenbak, a senior middle blocker, has a team-best 1.24 blocks per set while freshman libero Lexi Rodriguez leads the Huskers with 4.41 digs per set.

The Badgers, who haven’t lost a match to a team not named Purdue since Sept. 24, are riding a modest three match winning streak. However, they are probably coming off their most emotional match of the season, a 3-2 comeback win at Minnesota last Sunday. Sunday’s match marked the first time since the 2018 season that three players recorded double-doubles. Sydney Hilley (65 assists/16 digs), Jade Demps (18 kills/16 digs) and Julia Orzoł (14 kills/14 digs) had impressive matches against the Gophers. Dana Rettke led Wisconsin with 21 kills while, Grace Loberg (14) and Devyn Robinson (13) also added double figures.

Another big performance from senior leaders Hilley, Rettke and Loberg will be imperative to notching a second win over Nebraska this season. This should be a great match and will be starting right after the Nebraska/Iowa football game is ending, giving you a great excuse to spend most of this Friday on the couch watching sports!

How to watch/listen

TV: BTN, 4:30 p.m. CT, Larry Punteney, Salima Rockwell

Streaming: FOX Sports App; FOX streaming

Radio: U100.9 FM, Jon Arias

Live stats: Here!

Arena: UW Field House, Madison, Wis.

Fun facts (according to the media guides)

  • If the Badgers win both of their remaining matches, they will clinch their third-straight Big Ten title.
  • Only Penn State (1996-97-98; 2003-04-05-06-07-08-09-10) and Illinois (1986-87-88) have won three-straight conference titles.
  • Nebraska leads the all-time series 19-8-1, however the Badgers have won six straight matches against the Huskers, with the last four being UW sweeps.
  • Since 2016, NU is 19-2 (.905) in their final four regular-season Big Ten matchups.
  • Head coach Kelly Sheffield is counting down to 500 career wins, needing one victory to hit the milestone. In his ninth year at Wisconsin, Sheffield is 499-165 (.752) in his 21st year as a head coach.
  • Two Badgers earned Big Ten weekly awards this past week with Sydney Hilley being named the Big Ten Setter of the Week and Julia Orzoł recognized as the Big Ten Freshman of the Week.
  • Hilley ranks second in Wisconsin history with 5,801 assists, needing 33 assists to better the school record of 5,833 assists set by Laura Abbinante (1993-96), who will be in attendance on Friday night.
  • Fifth-year senior Dana Rettke broke the UW career record for total blocks against Purdue on Nov. 12. The 6-foot-8 middle blocker tallied five stuffs to break the UW mark of 682 blocks set by Heather Dodaro (1994-97). Rettke now has 705 blocks in her career, which ranks fourth on the Big Ten record list.
  • Rettke is also on track to break the Badgers’ points record of 2256.0 set by Sherisa Livingston (1998-01). Rettke has 2215.0 points, needing 42 to break the record.
  • Rettke ranks second in career kills with 1,730. The UW record holder is Livingston with 1,912 kills.
  • Junior Izzy Ashburn has taken over the career list for service aces per set with 0.41 per set. The 5-foot-11 defensive specialist has 109 aces in 263 sets.
  • Wisconsin leads the Big Ten in hitting percentage (.290) and kills per set (14.76) while ranking second in four categories, including assists per set (13.53) and digs allowed (13.23).
  • Only three opponents have hit over .200 against the Badgers this season all over the last seven matches—Minnesota at .215 on Nov. 21; Northwestern at .246 on Nov. 14; Iowa at .288 on Nov. 6; and Purdue at .219 on Oct. 31.
  • As a team, Wisconsin ranks second in kills per set (14.76) and fourth in assists per set (13.53).
  • Individually, Hilley leads the Big Ten with 12.05 assists per set and Rettke has a Big Ten-best .447 hitting percentage.
  • Freshman Julia Orzoł ranks second on the team with 3.19 kills per set while Wisconsin has three other hitters that average 2.0-or-more kills per set—Grace Loberg (2.59), Devyn Robinson (2.47) and Jade Demps (2.14). Anna Smrek (1.50) also contributes offensively.
  • The NCAA Tournament Selection Show airs live on ESPNU Sunday at 7:30 p.m. Sixty-four teams will be selected for the tournament, including 32 conference champions that receive automatic berths.

Potential Wisconsin starters

  • Lauren Barnes, 5-foot-6, super senior, libero, No. 1
  • Sydney Hilley, 6-foot, super senior, setter, No. 2
  • Devyn Robinson, 6-foot-2, sophomore, middle blocker, No. 10
  • Jade Demps, 6-foot-2, sophomore, right side, No. 15
  • Dana Rettke, 6-foot-8, super senior, middle blocker, No. 16
  • Grace Loberg, 6-foot-3, super senior, outside hitter, No. 21
  • Julia Orzoł, 6-foot, freshman, outside hitter, No. 22