While missing a key piece of its rotation, the No. 2 Wisconsin Badgers (14-1 Big Ten, 23-1) saw no signs of a slow down against the Maryland Terrapins (5-10, 15-12), sweeping the Terps in dominant fashion 3-0 (25-10, 25-21, 25-9).
Junior middle blocker Anna Smrek was outt, so Julia Orzoł filled in at outside hitter, ditching her libero uniform, while sophomore Gülce Güçtekin slotted in at libero.
Those changes meant no problem for the Badgers, who jumped out to a 16-1 lead in the first set against the Terps. Orzoł’s serving helped lead to a 9-0 run to give UW the handy advantage before the Badgers closed the opening set off 25-10 while hitting .668 in the frame.
Brought the fire to College Park. pic.twitter.com/YIcfLF62Iy— Wisconsin Volleyball (@BadgerVB) November 11, 2023
Wisconsin’s attack was dominant throughout the night, swinging an efficient .500 on the night with 41 kills. Outside hitter Sarah Franklin led the way for the Badgers with 10 kills while Devyn Robinson and Carter Booth each posted nine kills.
On the defensive side, the Badgers held Maryland to negative hitting in the first and third set and held the Terps to just .037 hitting. UW out-blocked the Terps 13 to 1 on the night, with junior middle blocker CC Crawford leading the way with seven blocks on the night.
The Terps kept the second set tighter, but UW held Maryland at arms’ length with a six-point cushion for most of the frame, including a kill from Franklin forcing a Terp timeout at 18-11. Although Maryland made it dicier for Wisconsin in the second — the Terps fought back to close the UW lead to just 23-21 and force two timeouts in the set — the Badgers closed out with two points in a row to kill off the second set 25-21.
In spot duty as an outside hitter, Orzoł proved there was no rust on her swinging arm. The Polish dynamo had five kills on .385 hitting and relished her moment on the night.
Yeahhh, she can still hit pic.twitter.com/KuTn8WFnnb— Wisconsin Volleyball (@BadgerVB) November 11, 2023
“It was wonderful to be back there (hitting),” Orzoł said. “I feel like I didn’t notice a lot of difference. Just balling out, and there was a lot of support from the girls…it was fun.”
After the tighter second set, the Badgers were again unleashed in the third set and got off to an early 10-1 advantage that ballooned to 22-6 after a 5-0 run led by senior setter Izzy Ashburn’s serve.
The Badgers quickly polished off the Terps Friday night ahead of a crucial Top 25 battle Saturday night against the Nittany Lions — to be fair, the Badgers played like they had a flight to catch. Up next is that crucial clash against Penn State (10-5, 16-8) in Happy Valley Saturday night. That match will be on Big Ten Network at 7 p.m.