The Wisconsin Badgers (9-0 Big Ten, 9-0 overall) again showed why they’re the number one team in the country against the Michigan State Spartans (2-6, 2-6), completing their eighth sweep of the season, 3-0 (25-20, 25-9, 25-13).
Michigan State held Wisconsin in check to some extent in the first set. UW held a 8-3 lead early on thanks to stellar defensive work from the back line. Libero Lauren Barnes was all over the court, finishing with eight digs on the night — including a highlight reel series of digs in one of the final points of the match.
Still, the Spartans pushed back and at one point forced a 13-13 tie in the first. Naya Gros was one of MSU’s real catalysts with five kills and .714 hitting percentage in the first set. Gros stepped up well in the absence of Big Ten Freshman of the Week Sarah Franklin, who was out for the Spartans and wore a cast on her right hand on the sidelines.
UW pushed back and ended the set with a 25-20 win. Freshman outside hitter Jade Demps had three kills in the opener as she had a career day with eight kills. Demps played a lot more for Wisconsin as Molly Haggerty sat out today for health reasons.
In the second set, the Badgers kicked down the door thanks to some great serves from Giorgia Civita. The transfer from Wichita State didn’t dress last weekend, and came back to have a big day serving. The Italian had three aces and led big runs for UW, helping the Badgers dominate the second frame.
“I really liked our serve-pass game today. Our serving really kept them off balance,” head coach Kelly Sheffield said after the match.
Wisconsin hit .650 as the guns were blazing and the team was really clicking. It seemed like very little could go wrong for the Badgers the rest of the match, and there was no big focal point this match.
Three players led the team with eight kills — freshman Jade Demps, senior Grace Loberg and senior Dana Rettke — and UW faced very little resistance in the last two sets.
“(Jade) had a little bit of nerves early. I think she worked through that as the match went on. She’s a real gifted attacker. She can get up there, especially (on) out of system balls. She can get up there and over the block. Her off-speed shot is really, really disguised well. She’s a handful. It’s hard to slow her down. I was really happy with the way she settled down as the match progressed,” Sheffield noted on Demps’ performance.
When Wisconsin clicks — like they did in the last two sets — they look unstoppable. The Spartans will hope to stop them from clicking tomorrow, when the Badgers and Spartans play again at 2:30 pm CST.