The Wisconsin Badgers volleyball team is on to the Final Four for the third consecutive season. They’ve lost in the semifinals and the finals in the last two trips, so there is only one thing left to do in my esteemed opinion. However, we’ll discuss the match with Louisville more this week. For now, let’s take a look back at the run the Badgers have been on and a recap of the Madison Regional.
Columbus here we come! pic.twitter.com/krPrzgtuMe— Wisconsin Volleyball (@BadgerVB) December 12, 2021
First, some notes:
- Wisconsin improves to 5-7 in NCAA regional finals, including a 4-3 mark under head coach Kelly Sheffield.
- UW improves to 58-24 in NCAA tournament play, advancing to its fifth NCAA national semifinal, including third straight.
- The Badgers are 29-3 so far this season, the most wins in a season since the 2014 team went 31-3.
- Junior Izzy Ashburn broke the UW single season record for service aces under 25-point rally scoring with 48 aces tonight. The previous record was 47 aces set by Ashburn in 2019.
- Three Badgers were named the NCAA Wisconsin Regional All-Tournament team. Setter Sydney Hilley was named the region MVP while Dana Rettke and Devyn Robinson were named to the all-region team as well.
- The Badgers won all 12 sets they played in the regional, sweeping Minnesota, UCLA, Florida Gulf Coast and Colgate on their way to the Final Four. They have won 18 straight sets overall.
And here are some reactions from head coach Kelly Sheffield and the players after the match.
Kelly Sheffield: “It was a battle out there. I thought we were really good at the end of sets. I thought we made some great plays. I thought it was a balanced effort and the three up here (Hilley, Rettke and Robinson) I thought were really big, but they weren’t the only three that were really big. I thought we all played our part and we’re excited that we’re still playing. I’m excited that we get to keep coaching these guys.”
“Syd’s (Hilley) got a lot of confidence in her hitters and that confidence is earned every day in the practice gym. Believe me, if she didn’t have confidence in somebody, the kid’s a winner, she’s not going to give somebody the ball. They’ve worked on that and it’s something that we pride ourselves in. We’ve got a player like Dana (Rettke) who is just as good as what she is. But we’re a tougher team when some other people are also getting some balls as well. I think it raises the whole tide. I think it’s an offense that is tough to defend against.”
Dana Rettke, on her first service ace of the season: “When Kelly told me I was back to serve, I said, ‘alright, you’ve been working on this for like two months.’ I knew exactly what I had to do and technique was great and it was nice and flean. That’s what I like. Flean is flat and clean, so there’s no rotation on the ball and its really tight to the net.”
Crowd goes into shock as @dana_rettke steps up to the service line…THEN GOES ABSOLUTELY CRAZY WHEN SHE SERVES AN ACE!!!!— The MadHouse (@TheMadHouseUW) December 12, 2021
Devyn Robinson, on her mindset heading into the match: “I just went out there with a mindset of ‘I’m going to go do this for my seniors.’ It’s their last game in here. I’m going to make sure we get this win for them and get them to the final four in their last year. I just played with my heart, for them.”
Sydney Hilley, on playing in front of the UW faithful at the Field House: “I don’t think you could ask for a better match to go out on, on your career in the Field House. The energy was just electric. They added so much to the environment. I thought the game was just super fun. and one of the funnest matches I’ve ever played.”
The Badgers have practice in Madison on Monday and then travel to Columbus, Ohio, where they take on top-seeded and undefeated Louisville in the NCAA National Semifinals on Thursday night at Nationwide Arena. No. 3 Pittsburgh faces No. 10 Nebraska in the other national semifinal. The Badgers match is at 6 p.m. CT while the second match is scheduled for an 8:30 p.m. CT first serve.