Kelly Sheffield did say he liked the depth for this Badgers team. However, he wasn’t always pleased with how Wisconsin looked against lowly Rutgers on Friday night.
With UW heavily subbing, the No. 1 Wisconsin Badgers (5-0 Big Ten, 5-0 overall) dispatched the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (1-4, 1-4) in straight sets 3-0 (25-18, 25-20, 25-16) for their fifth sweep of the season.
Only three eligible Badgers didn’t touch the floor in the game as UW showcased an even attack while dominating on the defensive side as well. Wisconsin had 11.5 total blocks with senior Dana Rettke racking up seven by herself.
“The subs that we did tonight had nothing to do with me trying to get people time, that was me trying to find somebody who’s going to perform at a higher level,” Sheffield said after the match.
Although Wisconsin faced a slow start in the first set — going down 5-0 early — but a 7-0 run let the Badgers back into the set and they gained control. Senior outside hitter Molly Haggerty had solid serves including an ace during that run while senior Grace Loberg had two kills to kick start UW.
The Badgers also served much better this game, totaling nine aces with only six errors as sophomore Izzy Ashburn and Haggerty each posted three aces each. Sheffield went on to say:
“I thought Dana (Rettke) really served the ball a lot better, Dana and Izzy (Ashburn) served the ball a lot better tonight. They were a lot more consistent, that’s something they’ve been working really hard on in the gym and I thought it paid off a little bit behind the service line for both of them. Both of them have really nasty serves when they’re consistent, it puts a lot of pressure on people.”
Haggerty, a preseason All-Big Ten nominee, led Wisconsin with eight kills alongside seven digs. Junior Danielle Hart had seven kills as eight Badgers recorded at least one kill.
Rutgers impressed in serving last week, but against Wisconsin, they struggled with only one ace compared to nine service errors. This was a match that UW took control of, after a slow start, and never let go.
“I just think we came out flat. We were pretty dead on the court and we need to come out and make our own energy,” Lauren Barnes noted.
With four out of five matches ending in sweeps, Wisconsin has proved their ranking in the No. 1 spot in the polls. They’ll have a chance to get another win against Rutgers tomorrow afternoon at 4:00 PM CST.