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Wisconsin volleyball: six players earn all-conference honors

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Sydney Hilley and Julia Orzoł picked up individual awards on Wednesday to add more hardware for the Big Ten champs.

Tom Lynn

The accolades keep rolling in for the Big Ten champions.

Fifth year setter Sydney Hilley picked up her third-straight Big Ten Setter of the Year honor, freshman Julia Orzoł earned Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors while six players total were named to the All-Big Ten teams.

Hilley was the maestro — to use Kelly Sheffield’s favorite word — of a Wisconsin offense that was the best in the conference in terms of hitting percentage. The senior from Brooklyn Park, Minn. was second in the conference in assists per set with 11.96 on the attack, while averaging 2.55 digs per set and 0.73 blocks per set on the defense. Hilley had 11 matches where she posted a double double and led the Badgers as one of the team captains.

Freshman Julia Orzoł made an instant impact for UW and was a revelation at the start of the year. The springy, 6-foot tall outside attacker — slightly undersized for that position — impressed right out the gate with back-to-back double digit kill performances to start the season while playing all six rotations.

An injury forced her to miss a couple weeks but the Polish freshman continued to impress with her energy, enthusiasm and play. Orzoł averaged 3.01 kills per set, finishing only behind Dana Rettke and added a serving threat and defensive capabilities in her first year. Orzoł was also named to the All-Big Ten Freshman Team.

Hilley and fifth year middle blocker Dana Rettke were both named to the All-Big Ten First Team. Rettke led the Badgers in kills per set with 3.48 on the season and earned Player of the Week honors twice this year and Defensive Player of the Week this past week as Wisconsin clinched the Big Ten title. Rettke was tied for first in the Big Ten in hitting percentage and second in blocks per set. It is the fifth time Rettke earned a first team nomination, and she’ll likely earn All-American honors as well.

Fifth year libero Lauren Barnes and sophomore middle blocker Devyn Robinson were named to the All-Big Ten Second Team. Barnes was Wisconsin’s heartbeat on defense and helped lead a defense that was the second best in the conference in terms of hitting percentage. Barnes averaged 4.22 digs per set and played so well Kelly Sheffield said she was “possessed” against Penn State when she had 29 digs — then a career high — only to break that record a few matches later against Purdue.

Devyn Robinson started the season as an opposite side hitter before an injury to middle blocker Danielle Hart moved her back to the middle. Robinson did not look back as she made the middle her home. The sophomore from Ankeny, Iowa was second to Dana Rettke with 92 blocks while averaging 2.44 kills per set.

Fifth year outside hitter Grace Loberg was also honored with a Big Ten Sportsmanship Award. Loberg seemed to save her best performance towards the end of the season, but was always a steady presence in Wisconsin’s attack. Loberg had 2.67 kills per set to finish third best for the Badgers, and the senior is on a run of four-straight games with double digit kills to help UW close out the Big Ten championship.

A huge congratulations to all the award winners!