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Wisconsin athletics: rankings and award updates for 2/9/21

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Wisconsin is a hockey/volleyball school now. It’s official.

Tom Lynn

As all of the relevant polls have now been released for this week let’s take a quick whip-around the Wisconsin Badgers athletic department and see where the two hockey teams and the volleyball team are ranked.

Men’s Hockey

After a dominant sweep over the Minnesota Golden Gophers this past weekend, the Badgers (13-7-0 overall) moved into first place in the Big Ten and jumped all the way up to No. 7 in the USCHO.com Poll.

The Gophers are still ranked ahead of UW, at No. 5, but only 23 votes separate the two rivals. As for the rest of the Big Ten, Michigan is ranked No. 8, and Notre Dame and Penn State are receiving votes.

The Badgers, predictably, dominated the Big Ten’s weekly awards with sophomore forward Dylan Holloway being named the First Star and fellow sophomore forward Cole Caufield being named the Third Star. Holloway notched two points on a goal and an assist in Friday’s win before recording a career-best five-point night with a goal and four assists in Saturday’s 8-1 win. The forward is currently averaging 1.92 points per game, the highest of any Big Ten player, while on an eight-game point streak and seven-game multi-point game streak.

Caufield posted three goals and a pair of assists last week to help the Badgers sweep Minnesota in Minneapolis for the first time since Feb. 6-7, 2009. He also extended his point streak to 12 games (13 goals, 12 assists) and leads the nation with 17 goals and 33 points on the season.

This is the second straight week that Holloway and Caufield have been named Big Ten Stars of the Week with Caufield being First Star and Holloway being Second Star last week.

Women’s Hockey

After a win and a tie last weekend against the Gophers in the Twin Cities, the Badgers (9-2-1) remain the No. 1 team in the country, and a unanimous one at that, according to the USCHO.com Poll. The Gophers remain at No. 2, although Northeastern is a hair behind them, and Ohio State is No. 4 while Minnesota-Duluth is No. 6, giving the WCHA 40% of the top-10.

The Badgers also cleaned up in the WCHA weekly awards. Daryl Watts was named Forward of the Week, Grace Bowlby was named Defenseman of the Week and Lacey Eden was name Rookie of the Week.

Watts scored two goals, including the game-winning goal in OT, and added the game-tying assist in UW’s 4-3 win against Minnesota on Friday night. Thanks to her two goals on Friday, Watts extended her goal streak to seven games, which is tied for the fourth-longest streak in school history. Sadly, that ended on Saturday but we’re sure she’ll start a new one soon.

Bowlby’s two points and two assists led all WCHA blueliners, while her +2 plus/minus rating was also tied for the league lead. The senior defender currently has a seven-game point streak heading into this weekend’s series. Eden earned her first multi-assist game for UW in Friday’s 4-3 win, as she assisted on a pair of third-period goals for UW. Her +1 plus/minus rating was tied for the best mark by a WCHA rookie.

Goalie Kennedy Blair was honorable mention for Goaltender of the Week after she made a WCHA-high 56 saves during the Badgers’ weekend at Minnesota.

Volleyball

The No. 1 ranked volleyball team (6-0 overall) continued their torrid start to the season by sweeping Rutgers in back to back matches over the weekend. The earned 50 out of 60 first place votes in the AVCA Coaches Poll and continue to look like a serious national title contender.

As for the rest of the Big Ten, Nebraska sits at No. 4, Minnesota at No. 5, Penn State at No. 8, Purdue at No. 11 and Michigan (who has yet to play a match due to their athletic department being shut down) at No. 24. So far the Badgers have only played one of the top teams in the conference (they did sweep the Boilermakers twice to open the season), so it will be exciting to see them take on Nebraska at the end of the month.

Wrestling

Chris Bono’s squad had a rough go against No. 4 Penn State last Tuesday, dropping the dual 34-6 with UW’s only points coming at 125 pounds because PSU had to forfeit. Despite the Badgers sitting at 1-4 on the season they remain ranked in the NWCA Division 1 Coaches Poll, clocking in at No. 19 which is down two spots from last week. The Badgers and Gophers renew the Border Battle on Friday morning, and hopefully this dual will be on TV since it’s at a weird time and live sports is better than no sports, right Big Ten Network???

Per usual, the Big Ten dominated this week’s rankings. The top three teams are all from the Big Ten with No. 1 Iowa, No. 2 Michigan and No. 3 Penn State. Nebraska, Minnesota and Illinois are ranked No. 8-No. 10, Ohio State is at No. 12, Purdue is at No. 17, the Badgers holding strong at No. 19 and Michigan State rounding things out at No. 22. Rutgers dropped out of the poll, but is only two votes outside of the No. 25 spot and Northwestern is also receiving votes.