The Wisconsin Badgers continued its perfect start, sweeping the Iowa Hawkeyes (0-5 Big Ten, 8-9 overall) 3-0 (25-19, 25-18, 25-16) to stay unbeaten (5-0, 14-0) on the season and unblemished in conference play — UW has won 15 sets and lost none.
Balance was the name of the day for Wisconsin, as four players had over eight kills. Outside hitter Temi Thomas-Ailara had 10 kills on just two errors, while Devyn Robinson and Sarah Franklin both had nine.
In the first set, UW had some key early inputs from senior middle blocker CC Crawford. She had two kills, two digs, and an ace that helped Wisconsin get through some early tightness. Head coach Kelly Sheffield called timeout with UW trailing 8-7 and the Badgers were also down 15-11 as Iowa’s Nataly Moravec was off to a hot start early.
A pair of blocks in quick succession from Smrek and Carter Booth helped UW go up 19-17, and then Crawford’s ace made Wisconsin hit the 20 mark, where they pulled away.
Setter Izzy Ashburn got Wisconsin’s second ace of the night which put UW up 9-6 in the second frame. The Badgers’ service game was an asset on the night as Wisconsin had seven aces to just one service error. The Hawkeyes, on the other hand, had nine errors to just four aces.
Thomas-Ailara had two crucial kills in the second set, one to put Wisconsin ahead 17-10 and another to help stave off an Iowa comeback attempt to push the Badgers up 20-15. Then junior libero Julia Orzoł had a highlight-reel save that led to a Wisconsin point. The Pole had a solid night on the defensive end, ending with 11 digs and three aces.
Orzoł then had an ace to Wisconsin up 7-2 in the third as the Badgers looked to close out the match. Iowa’s outside hitters helped lead a comeback though to tighten up the third set and even take the lead at 16-15. Caitlan Buettner led the match with 12 kills and although Moravec cooled off and had some service errors, she finished with 10 kills.
But Orzoł’s serving propelled Wisconsin on a 10-0 run to close out the match, and she notched the win with a service ace to end the match.
Although Iowa put up a solid battle, Wisconsin’s depth and block proved too much for the Hawkeyes. UW out-blocked Iowa 9-2, with Crawford posting five stuffs for the Badgers.
Next up for Wisconsin is a road match against the Illinois Fighting Illini (2-3, 7-8) on Saturday. That game will be on Big Ten+ at 6 P.M. Central.