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Wisconsin vs. TCU and Baylor: how to watch, match preview and open thread

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The opening weekend of the season and the Badgers are welcome two Texas teams to the Field House.

Tom Lynn

As the classic song goes, “the gals are back in town!”

The Wisconsin Badgers volleyball team is back in action this weekend for the first time since falling in last season’s Final Four. The Badgers are hosting the Big Ten/Big 12 Challenge at the UW Field House on Friday and Saturday and, quite frankly, we couldn’t be more excited to have this team back in our lives.

There will be fans in the stands (here are some helpful tips from UW, as there have been changes made since the last time we were all in the Field House), All-Americans on the court and excitement in Madison all weekend. Wisconsin plays the TCU Horned Frogs on Friday before a monster showdown with the No. 10 Baylor Bears on Saturday. The No. 7 Minnesota Golden Gophers have the same matchups, just on opposite nights. If you’d like to get some scouting done, the Friday night Gophers/Bears tilt is on ESPNU at 8:30 p.m. CT.

Wisconsin is the unanimous preseason favorite to win their third straight Big Ten title and facing two early season challenges like Baylor and, to a lesser extent if we’re being honest, TCU is great to get them prepared for the meat grinder that is a Big Ten volleyball schedule.

How to watch/listen

Matchup: Friday vs. TCU at 6 p.m. CT; Saturday vs. No. 10 Baylor at 6 p.m. CT

TV: Friday on BTN+; Saturday on Big Ten Network

Streaming: Friday on BTN+; Saturday on BTN+ or the FOX Sports app

Radio/Satellite: U100.9 FM

Live stats: Here!

Arena: UW Field House, Madison, Wis.

Fun facts (according to the media guides)

  • UW returns more than 81% of its 2020 statistics.
  • The Badgers return 95% of their blocks, 87% of their service aces, 85% of their digs, and 82% of their kills.
  • Dana Rettke led UW in 2020 with 3.13 kills and 1.50 blocks per set.
  • Devyn Robinson had a team-best .426 hitting percentage last year.
  • Lauren Barnes averaged 4.50 digs per set last season, which is the top returning mark on the team.
  • Speaking of Barnes, she enters the season on an eight-match streak with 10-plus digs and over the last eight matches of the 2020-21 season she averaged 5.57 digs per set.
  • The Wisconsin/Baylor clash will be a rematch of the 2019 Final Four, which the Badgers won.
  • This is the first-ever meeting between Wisconsin and TCU.
  • TCU is opening up the regular season with a road match against the No. 2-ranked team in the nation for the second straight season (at No. 2 Baylor in 2020).
  • Last season, TCU was 4-17 and return five starters and 11 letterwinners, including kill leader Julia Adams (3.35 kps), dig leader Dani Dennison (3.50 dps), setter McKenzie Nichols (10.10 aps) and block leader McKayla Myers (0.77 bps).
  • Adams, a 6-foot-3 outside hitter, was named to the preseason All-Big 12 team and the Horned Frogs were picked to finish eighth in the Big 12 this season.
  • TCU enters the weekend with a three-match road win streak dating back to last season, defeating Texas State & Oklahoma (twice).
  • The Bears were 20-7 in 2020-21, and advanced to the NCAA regional semifinals.
  • If Baylor wins against both Minnesota and Wisconsin, it’ll be the first time in program history that the Bears have defeated two top-10 programs in the same week.
  • The Bears are picked to finish second in the Big 12 this season with Yossiana Pressley and Avery Skinner, who is a fifth-year transfer from Kentucky, earned preseason All-Big 12 honors.
  • Pressley ranked eighth nationally last season with 4.69 kills per set while Skinner averaged 3.81 kills per set for the reigning national champions.