After a close start, the Wisconsin Badgers (19-1 Big Ten, 26-3 overall) simply overmatched the Quinnipiac Bobcats (10-8 MAAC, 14-15) in a 3-0 sweep (25-15, 25-9, 25-4) that snowballed into embarrassing score lines as the match progressed.
Junior Devyn Robinson led the way for Wisconsin with 11 kills and one error to hit for .667 on the night as the Bobcats had no match for her — or UW.
The first set was slightly trickier going for the Badgers. Thanks to some attacking errors, UW clung to a 7-6 lead and the Bobcats had some energy and kept the Badgers honest until it hit 13-11.
At that point, UW went on a 4-0 service run and the block started becoming a huge factor against an undersized Bobcat team — only three players on their roster were over 6-foot tall; one rotation for UW had freshman libero Gülce Güçtekin as the only player shorter than 6-feet. Wisconsin had 10 blocks as a team compared to zero for the Bobcats, and Robinson’s ability in the front of the net really stymied Quinnipiac’s hopes.
A block from sophomore Anna Smrek and Caroline Crawford gave UW a 19-12 advantage, then senior Liz Gregorski came into the match to serve and got an ace to give Wisconsin set point.
Out-sized and out-matched soon became the themes in the match for a Quinnipiac team who finished sixth in their conference in the regular season but got into the Dance after a fantastic run in their conference tournament. Sadly, their Cinderella run struck Midnight in the Field House, and UW held the Bobcats to negative hitting percentage and a total of 12 kills on the night.
In the second set, the Badgers sprung to life with 15 kills and just two errors to hit .520 for the set. And this is when UW started having cameos, including a service run from senior Joslyn Boyer that put UW up 29-7. Then senior Gabby McCaa got her first kill in a Badger jersey as she finished off the set 25-9.
In the third, senior Anna MacDonald came into serve late and notched an ace before freshman Ella Wrobel got the kill that closed out the match at 25-4. Yes, 25-4. Every player that was dressed to play for Wisconsin got into the match.
The Bobcats looked gassed in the later stages and struggled in serve to receive on top of the issues against UW’s size. What initially was really impressive defending and long rallies became quick-fire points that likely left a bitter taste in the mouth in an otherwise probably awesome night for the Bobcats’ program — it must be cool to have your first NCAA Tournament appearance occur in front of a sell-out crowd.
Up next for the Badgers is a second-round tilt against the TCU Horned Frogs, who had a slight 3-1 upset win over the Washington Huskies. The Horned Frogs played the Badgers earlier this year, losing in an opening match sweep all the way back in August.
First serve is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. Central at the UW Field House and on ESPN+.