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Wisconsin volleyball Weekend Recap: Badgers drop five-set thriller to No. 16 Baylor Bears

Service errors killed any Wisconsin momentum as the Badgers were upset by Baylor down in Texas.

VOLLEYBALL: DEC 18 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship Photo by Graham Stokes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A strong start to the season did not last for the new-look Badgers, as they dropped a five-set 3-2 (21-25, 25-22, 26-24, 21-25, 15-12) thriller to the then-No. 16 Baylor Bears Saturday.

Wisconsin had done well enough in a back-and-forth first set to take it 25-21. With four lead changes and 11 ties in the first, UW eventually won three straight points when it was 22-21 to take control, with two of the final points being blocks.

The Badgers had out-blocked their first opponents TCU 27-1, but did not have similar luck against the Bears. Baylor had 14 blocks to UW’s 12.

Wisconsin was up 21-19 in the second set, but the Bears came storming back with a 6-1 run to take the second frame. The momentum stayed with Baylor in another back-and-forth third set, which the Bears won 26-24 despite UW serving for set point.

UW fought back in the must-win fourth to force a fifth set. The Badgers and Bears were tied 11-11 before Baylor won two straight points to take a lead they would not give up.

Sophomore outside hitter Sarah Franklin led both teams with 22 kills in another impressive follow-up after the opener. Sophomore Julia Orzol followed behind with 13 kills.

Combing the box score, the key difference in this match was service errors. Wisconsin had 20 service errors to just four aces. Despite out-hitting the Bears in the match, UW lost momentum with the errors and gave up a lot of cheap points in a close contest, something that head coach Kelly Sheffield felt killed any rhythm.

“We couldn’t get into a rhythm pretty much the entire match,” Sheffield said. “We had trouble getting into a rhythm behind the service line, we had trouble getting into a rhythm with our offense.”

Wisconsin returns home for a home-opener against in-state rival No. 24 Marquette Golden Eagles Friday.