Wisconsin is alone at the top.
The Wisconsin Badgers (17-3 Big Ten, 25-3 overall) drubbed the Indiana Hoosiers (4-16, 10-22) in a 3-0 sweep (25-14, 25-9, 25-15) on Saturday night that let the celebrated senior class finish the regular season on a high. Thankfully, it likely won’t be their last bow at the Field House.
Fifth year senior Grace Loberg came out swinging for the Badgers, but the Hoosiers kept the first set tight at 9-9. UW was able to build the lead soon after with some great serving runs that put Wisconsin ahead 18-11 in the first. The Badgers were great on the serve tonight, firing home eight aces as a team with fifth year libero Lauren Barnes leading the way with four.
The Badger block also was a force all night. UW out-blocked IU 12-2, and they closed out the first set with two straight blocks. Fifth year Dana Rettke led the way with seven blocks while Loberg chipped in with five.
The strong block forced errors all night and made it difficult for the Hoosiers to get anything going. Wisconsin held Indiana to a negative hitting percentage all night as shots led to errors as they tried to get around the hands up front. That helped UW to a nearly picture perfect second set that finished 25-9 where the Badgers hit .435.
Indiana again kept it close for the start of the third set, but UW soon found their footing again to dominate and finished the set 25-15 winners in a clean sweep to take sole possession of the Big Ten title for the third straight season.
“You work all year and you have a chance to win it outright so you’re not gonna let anyone share it with you,” setter Sydney Hilley said. “Every single opponent in the Big Ten is really good and to get a win in the Big Ten is hard anytime, especially after a big win last night.
“We knew right from the beginning we were going to play Badger volleyball just like we do every other game.”
Grace Loberg meanwhile had saved her best for the end of the season. After a great performance against Nebraska to clinch a share of the conference title, Loberg had 12 kills and no errors to hit .571 against the Hoosiers. It was a performance that UW will need in the grind of the NCAA Tournament.
Although during the weekend Wisconsin sat as the fifth-ranked team, many volleyball analysts have said if UW became the outright champions of the Big Ten conference, that would have to merit a top four seed, and the luxury of hosting the first round through the Elite 8 all in Madison.
The Badgers will find out their fate in the selection show for the tournament later on Sunday. The first and second round matches — all but guaranteed to be at the Field House — will be on this Friday and Saturday.