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Wisconsin athletics: women’s hockey preseason rankings released; volleyball stays ranked No. 2

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The women’s hockey team is, predictably, the No. 1 team in the country for the preseason rankings.

2021 NCAA Division I Women’s Ice Hockey Championship Photo by Justin Berl/NCAA Photos/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Following another near flawless week from the Badgers women’s volleyball team, UW remains the No. 2 team in the country in this week’s AVCA D1 Coaches Poll. The Badgers received 11 first place votes, a slight increase from the nine first place votes they received in last week’s poll. Texas remains at the top of the poll, receiving 53 of 64 first place votes. The Big Ten has five other teams ranked within the top 25: Ohio State (No. 3), Nebraska (No. 6), Purdue (No. 9), Minnesota (No. 11), Penn State (No. 20).

Last Friday night, the Badgers took on the defending national champion, No. 8 Kentucky, at the UW Field House in front of the largest student section that Wisconsin women’s volleyball has ever seen.

In a match that almost mirrored their win versus No. 10 Baylor a week prior, the Badgers breezed through the first two sets (25-17, 25-11), dropped the third (26-28), and sealed the win in the fourth (26-24). Wisconsin found themselves challenged for the first time all year in the third and fourth sets, as both went into extra points.

After dropping the third set, the Badgers found themselves behind 18-14 in the fourth, and a fifth and final set was all but promised. UW did what great teams do, switched gears, went on a 5-1 run to tie the score at 19, and eventually took the fourth set and the match. For the second time in two weeks, the Badgers walked out of the UW Field House with a statement win.

There is no doubt that the Badgers fed off the energy provided by the students. Take it from senior setter Sydney Hilley herself: “I really loved the atmosphere in the Field House tonight. The fans and the student section consistently selling out, that’s something really special that hasn’t happened since I’ve been here. I thought the crowd was awesome, they were really into it and brought a lot of energy.”

The Badgers traveled to Milwaukee for an intrastate matchup versus Marquette on Sunday and performed as the No. 2 team in the country should versus an unranked opponent. Wisconsin swept Marquette 25-15, 25-18, 25-18 to remain undefeated on the season. Jade Demps recored 14 kills, setting her season high.

Thanks to another incredible week, Hilley was named the Big Ten Setter of the Week for the second time this season, averaging 11.29 assists and 3.14 digs across both matches. She stepped up when the Badgers needed her at her best, recording her second double-double off the year against No. 8 Kentucky.

In other news, we finally have our first USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Women’s College Hockey Poll of the year, and in a shock to absolutely nobody, the two-time defending champion Wisconsin Badgers come in at the top of the poll, ranked No. 1.

The Badgers will look to three-peat in this upcoming season, something that has only been done once before (Minnesota-Duluth, 2001-2003). The season kicks off on Sept. 24 on the road against Lindenwood.