Ahead of another big test — and a grudge match — against the No. 12 Purdue Boilermakers next weekend, the No. 4 Wisconsin Badgers (12-2 Big Ten, 20-2 overall) knocked off the Iowa Hawkeyes (2-12 Big Ten, 4-20 overall) in straight sets (25-16, 25-23, 25-20) to end a long road trip.
The Badgers hit .396 against Iowa, which is their second best hitting percentage against conference opponents. Sophomore Devyn Robinson had nine kills while hitting a blistering .900 while fifth year middle blocker Dana Rettke paced the Badgers with 14 kills while hitting .600. Fifth year Grace Loberg also had one of her most efficient nights, hitting .381 while racking up 10 kills.
Skated through that one tonight.— Wisconsin Volleyball (@BadgerVB) November 7, 2021
(The court is on an ice rink. It's funny. However, those 2 people that call us out for "explaining our jokes" are going to be really upset by this.) pic.twitter.com/Rpp0hEoRGl
Loberg and Rettke did much of their best work early as Wisconsin cruised in the first set, going up 15-8 after an 8-2 run. Rettke had six of her 14 kills in the first, while Loberg had five.
The Hawkeyes battled back in the second set, keeping the frame tighter in a set that saw five lead changes. Iowa was able to take a 21-22 lead, but two timely kills from Loberg and Rettke put Wisconsin in front, who then saw off the second set with a clinching ace from junior defensive specialist, and former Hawkeye, Joslyn Boyer.
Iowa had much more fight than their first meeting with Wisconsin, and held a 7-4 lead in the third set. Courtney Buzziero was the Hawkeyes’ star on the night with a match-high 15 kills, and the Hawkeyes hit .288, the best hitting percentage tallied by a Wisconsin opponent.
But UW got ahead in the match thanks to a plethora of aces. The Badgers finished with five, with junior Izzy Ashburn, libero Lauren Barnes and freshman Julia Orzoł getting one at important parts of the third set. Wisconsin then took a 22-19 lead, and eventually sophomore Jade Demps got an ace, after a challenge and review, herself to close out the match.
Wisconsin finally returns to the friendly confines of the UW Field House this weekend to take on the Purdue Boilermakers, one of the two teams to beat the Badgers this season.
The Boilermakers (9-4 Big Ten, 17-5 overall) took care of business against the Maryland Terrapins in a 3-1 win, where they out-blocked Maryland 15-13 while stars Caitlyn Newton and Grace Cleveland both had double digits kills. Purdue will play last-placed Rutgers later Sunday afternoon to close out their east coast swing.
If Purdue finishes up their end of the bargain, it sets up another exciting match, but this time Wisconsin has the home court advantage. “We have Purdue next and we know just how good they are,” head coach Kelly Sheffield said. “I’m hoping the Field House is as loud as it has been the last couple years.
“We’re fired up. It’ll be a good game,” Sheffield said.