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Wisconsin volleyball: UW holds strong as No. 2 team in the country

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Check out how the rest of the conference did in the newest AVCA rankings too.

Tom Lynn

The UW Field House was the place to be this past weekend as the No. 2 ranked Badgers women’s volleyball team kicked off their season with the Big Ten/Big 12 Challenge, hosting TCU and No. 10 Baylor.

The Badgers took care of business in front of two sold out crowds, defeating TCU in straight sets, and Baylor 3-1 in four sets. Thanks to their impressive weekend, the Badgers remain the No. 2 team in the country following the release of this week’s AVCA D1 Coaches Poll.

Texas, who remains at the top of the rankings, received 42 of 64 first place votes. The Badgers received 15. Kentucky, the defending champion, received seven first place votes. The Wildcats will travel to Madison to take on the Badgers on September 10 in a showdown that is sure to be a can’t miss match. Six other Big Ten teams find themselves ranked in the top-25 as well: Nebraska (No. 4), Ohio State (No. 6), Purdue (No. 8), Minnesota (No. 10), Penn State (No. 17) and Michigan (No. 23).

It was surely a strong start to the season for the Badgers, who are as Drew Hamm called them, “one of the best teams [he’s ever cheered for in any sport]”. He’s right. This team is DOMINANT. In a highly anticipated top-10 matchup versus Baylor, the Badgers ran through the first two sets (25-16, 25-7) and bounced back after a disappointing third set (16-25) to seal the victory with a 25-15 fourth set win. As soon as Baylor began to believe they had a shot to force a final fifth set, the Badgers put their foot on the gas and refused to take it off. That’s a quality of a winning team.

Danielle Hart had a career night versus Baylor, leading the Badgers with a career high 13 kills and a .591 hitting percentage. It would be foolish to overlook the play of standout freshman Julia Orzol in Thursday’s match versus TCU. In her first career start, she led the Badgers with a team high 11 kills in addition to six digs and three blocks.

All-American setter Sydney Hilley was named the Big Ten Setter of the Week for the thirteenth time in her career. In two matches at the Big Ten/Big 12 Challenge, Hilley did Hilley type things. She averaged 12.14 assists, 1.86 digs, and 0.57 blocks and racked up her first double double of the season against Baylor.

Perennial All-America performer Dana Rettke won her first Big Ten Player of the Week award as well. She averaged 3.33 kills, 1.67 blocks and hit .541 (0 errors on 37 swings) over the two matches at the Field House. This was her tenth career Player of the Week honor.

Next up for the Badgers is Dayton, who comes to town for matches on September 2 and 3 before the Badgers face No. 3 Kentucky on September 10.