Here is a roundup of quotes from head coach Kelly Sheffield, senior libero Lauren Barnes and freshman middle blocker Anna Smrek after the No. 4 Wisconsin Badgers upset the No. 1 Louisville Cardinals in the national semifinals on Thursday night.
- “I thought that was an epic volleyball match. The level of play by both teams and the heart by both teams was just special.”
Last piece of content for the night...maybe.— Wisconsin Volleyball (@BadgerVB) December 17, 2021
The locker room. pic.twitter.com/RXTllJENGz
- On what he told the team to help them try and keep their composure: “Both teams were being stressed an incredible amount. They were stressing us big time with their speed. How fast they get on a ball is, it’s really, really quick. I mean, their arms are just boom.
And [Tori] Dilfer will find those middles, find people in trans. And we were stressed defensively. We know that they were extremely stressed. Try defending that.
And so a lot of it was, there were some adjustments that were being made, but it was also a reminder of let’s stay right here, stay where your feet are and let’s move past the previous point. Let’s find a way to get the next point. Let’s just play good volleyball.”
- On Lauren Barnes’ incredible, and repeated, diving efforts to save points: “I don’t know how many balls that you’re sitting there going, oh, my God, that ball’s going down. And on the other side of the net here it comes back. And I don’t know how many times Barnesy had her cape on and she comes out of the phone booth and flying in there and keeping the ball off the floor herself.”
- On his senior leaders returning for one more season and what this match meant: “The victory is great. I mean, the win is incredible. But to be in the battle, that that’s where you want to be. And they came back for that, that battle. And they showed up, both teams did, when it was time to go.”
- On Anna Smrek’s national coming out party: “We certainly didn’t say this to her but that was something that the coaching staff was discussing right before the match, is we thought this was set up to be — that Anna was going to have a really big night. How she’s been going about things practice-wise.”
- When asked if she was exhausted: “Honestly, right now I feel like I could run through a brick wall. But I’m sure it will hit me a little bit later. Adrenaline is still going. But I feel great right now.”
Lauren Barnes is here, she's there, she's every-bleeping-where.— Jim Polzin (@JimPolzinWSJ) December 17, 2021
- On where this match ranked on her personal list of matches played: “But gosh in a rank of matches, that was all-time. That was two teams battling it out. That was a lot of fun.”
- On coming back for one last season: “This is why I came back, for moments like these.”
- On what she saw in her ability heading into the match: “Well, as a team we discussed coming into this match with confidence. And we were on the same page and everyone worked together from the pass, the set, and knowing there was a lot of coverage behind us and going up.”
“I’m so dang proud of you” -Dana Rettke, but also the entire state of Wisconsin, to Anna Smrek— Curt Hogg (@CyrtHogg) December 17, 2021
- On all of the Badgers fans at the match: “Back home at the Field House it’s electric, the crowd. I think so many people showing up to support us here kind of fed our energy, even from the bench; they’re contributing with each other. And it honestly just lights everyone up. So it’s really important to have that support. We appreciate it.”
Tori Dilfer was asked if she changed up her setting to give her hitters a better chance against Wisconsin: “Honestly, no. I didn’t try to change anything. I trust them. I wasn’t scared of that block. I don’t think they were. So, no.”
Coach Dani Busboom on what she would do differently in terms of preparation for the match: “We held Dana Rettke to one of her lowest hitting percentages of the year, which is no easy task. We made a freshman [Anna Smrek] step up. Sometimes you roll the dice and you think, hopefully this freshman doesn’t have as amazing a game as they do.”
“So I don’t know if I would change anything. I wanted our team to be a little tougher down the stretch in game five and a little more aggressive.”