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Wisconsin volleyball: Badgers advance to Elite Eight again, face Penn State

Winner of 22 in a row after downing Ohio State, Wisconsin will face rival Penn State in the NCAA quarterfinals Saturday at 3 p.m. in Louisville.

Courtney Thomas (3) blocks an Ohio State spike.
Courtney Thomas (3) blocks an Ohio State spike.
UW Athletic Communications

The fourth-seeded Wisconsin women's volleyball team endured a tense, five-set match against Ohio State on Friday afternoon, emerging victorious in come-from-behind fashion to advance to the Elite Eight for the second consecutive season.

Wisconsin (31-2) has now won 22 straight matches heading into Saturday's quarterfinal matchup of the 2014 NCAA Tournament against archnemesis Penn State, the No. 5 seed. The Nittany Lions (33-3) were the last team to beat UW -- a three-match sweep at the Field House back in September. It was the only conference loss of the season for the Big Ten champion Badgers.

A perennial volleyball power, Penn State also defeated Wisconsin, 3-1, in last year's NCAA Championship match.

At times on Friday it appeared UW's great 2014 season would end short of a rematch with Penn State. Though the Badgers swept the Buckeyes (23-12) twice during the regular season, they found themselves locked in a defensive struggle after winning the first set, 25-20.

Ohio State stormed back to take a 2-1 lead, as both teams struggled to hit well. Wisconsin mustered only a .130 hitting percentage on the day, well below its season average of .280.

Behind career-high blocking efforts from seniors Dominique Thompson (11) and Courtney Thomas (7), Wisconsin narrowly won the fourth set, 26-24, before putting Ohio State away, 15-12, in the final frame.

Surviving a wake-up call in the Sweet 16 is certainly a better result for Wisconsin than falling flat today in its Elite Eight match with Big Ten rival Penn State. The Nittany Lions advanced by sweeping Siena, Dayton and 12th-seeded UCLA in succession to reach the quarterfinals.

With the Badgers eliminating Ohio State and Illinois falling to Florida, Nebraska is the only other Big Ten team still alive in the tournament.

The Wisconsin-Penn State quarterfinal match is scheduled for 3 p.m. CT in Louisville, Ky., and will be televised on ESPN U and broadcast live on the radio on 92.1 FM in the Madison area. You can also follow match highlights on Twitter through the team's official account @BadgerVB.