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Wisconsin volleyball: UW beats Flames in spring training home game

In UW’s only home match scheduled this spring, the Badgers enjoyed a win in front of the packed Field House.

2021 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship
Jade Demps had 13 kills against UIC over the weekend.
Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

The Wisconsin Badgers volleyball team was back in the Field House this past weekend for their one home tune-up game this spring. The defending champs beat the UIC Flames 3-1 (25-19, 25-8, 23-25, 25-11) in front of the UW faithful. Here are a few stray observations from the exhibition.

Crawford finding a home

She may not be in Kansas anymore, but Caroline Crawford is finding footing in the Badgers’ front row attack.

The sophomore and Kansas-native transferred from the Jayhawks in December, allowing her to start playing in the spring season. She has clearly gotten used to her new home in Madison. Crawford had a team-leading 13 kills on .600 hitting with just one error in the attack.

Crawford adds another impressive attacking threat for the Badgers and allows for middle blocker Danielle Hart all the time she needs to recover from her ACL injury last season. Either way, Crawford’s addition is exciting news for Badgers fans.

Heading outside

In the first exhibition, UW’s account of the game did not include much about the outside hitters. This match, Jade Demps changed that with a team-leading 13 kills of her own while hitting .300 percent.

Demps emerged as a huge attacking piece in the later part of the year last season as a backrow attack option, and it’s good to see her still progressing into a big piece.

Hot serving against the Flames

The Badgers’ play behind the service line was sometimes up-and-down in their title winning season. But it looks like the Badgers will have quite the steady threat this year from early action.

UW served nine aces, with Joslyn Boyer, Anna MacDonald and Izzy Ashburn firing home two apiece. If the Badgers can continue this serving pressure throughout the season, that’s a great sign going forward.

Positional focus

While head coach Kelly Sheffield was busy chopping and screwing multiple different lineups, it looks like we know at least one key position has been decided.

Joslyn Boyer again wore the libero shirt to start the match. The defensive specialist who transferred from Iowa was called into service last season while Gio Civita suffered an ACL injury (before, of course, Civita began playing on one ACL). Boyer has looked strong so far, notching a team-leading 16 digs and showing her stripes behind the service line. Seems like it will be an a-ok transition from Lauren Barnes to Boyer.

As for Sydney Hilley’s replacement, both MJ Hammill and Izzy Ashburn took turns playing setter in the match, with both performing well again. This battle looks like it will come down to the start of the season.

Other stray notes:

  • This video is a great sign of the program culture. The seniors who are still on campus clearly did not check out of the program, as they showed up front row for the exhibition. Real easy recruiting tools here for Kelly Sheffield (and of course the championship rings won’t hurt either).
  • Also happy (belated) birthday to Badgers superfan Izzy!
  • Julia Orzoł once again had double digit digs — and this time she didn’t even play libero.
  • It doesn’t look like Anna Smrek entered the match. Maybe they were just tinkering with lineups or giving her a rest, but could be something to keep an eye on.