In their first round NCAA Tournament matchup against Colgate, the Wisconsin Badgers looked deserving of being one of the top four teams in the nation. The No. 4 seed Badgers (17-3 Big Ten, 26-3 overall) trounced the Raiders (13-3 Patriot League, 18-10 overall) in straight sets (25-12, 25-15, 25-14), leaving no doubt that UW would advance to the next round.
Let’s do this again tomorrow!!— Wisconsin Volleyball (@BadgerVB) December 4, 2021
Who’s in?! pic.twitter.com/dRYrHo6agS
Colgate initially held Wisconsin close in the first set, with the Badgers only holding a 6-5 lead and needing to scramble on defense at times to keep points alive. But UW went on a run to take the lead to 13-8, with sophomore Jade Demps leading the way with three early kills.
The Badgers extended their lead thanks to fifth year middle blocker Dana Rettke firing home back-to-back kills. The super senior led the way all night with 15 kills and four blocks. Fellow fifth year senior Lauren Barnes had a couple of aces in a row to extend UW’s lead to 19-8 and it was done and dusted. The Badgers served much better Friday night as the team had seven total aces. Fifth year defensive specialist Gio Civita and junior Izzy Ashburn had two apiece while Barnes led the team with three.
The second set was more business as usual for Wisconsin, who got off to a 10-4 lead after Barnes’ third ace. Freshman Anna Smrek was the star of the second frame, posting five of her eight kills during that set.
The middles were the story for Wisconsin in this match as the Badgers hit .398 on the night thanks to their efficiency. Rettke hit .565, sophomore Devyn Robinson hit .545 while Smrek hit .462.
The crowd was packed to the rafters in the Field House — an advantage UW will have in their run during the tournament until the Final Four. UW fans got a big roar in the third set as Civita hit her second ace to make it 9-3 for the Badgers, then Izzy Ashburn extended the lead to 11-5 with an ace of her own.
Everything was clicking in the Badgers’ opening round contest. They’ll look to reach their eighth straight Sweet 16 in a match against the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles, who beat the Texas Tech Red Raiders 3-2 in the match before UW’s. The second round will be at the UW Field House on Saturday at 6:00 p.m.