clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Wisconsin Volleyball: Badgers cruise on Senior Day with sweep of Iowa

Sarah Franklin and Temi Thomas-Ailara impressed on the night as UW looked to secure a Top 4 seed.

Syndication: Journal Sentinel
Outside hitter Temi Thomas-Ailara had a career-best .647 hitting percentage along with 11 kills t5o beat Iowa in straight sets Saturday night.
Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

On a celebratory senior night, the Wisconsin Badgers (17-3 Big Ten, 26-3 overall) took down the Iowa Hawkeyes (8-24, 0-20) in straight sets (25-21, 25-10, 25-16) with big contributions from the whole depth chart.

Although the opening frame might be tighter than expected against the bottom ranked-Big Ten squad, UW got three straight kills from graduate senior Temi Thomas-Ailara that capped a 25-21 victory in the opening set.

Thomas-Ailara had a clean match, with 11 kills and no errors to hit a .647 hitting percentage on the night. Meanwhile junior Sarah Franklin had a match-leading 14 kills to continue her hot streak on the night as she continues to illustrate how she may be the best player in the country.

After the tight first set against the Hawkeyes, the Badgers stepped it up in the second set, going off to a 13-3 lead early in part because of a run from Senior Day-celebrant Josyln Boyer. Boyer, who along with fellow senior Sydney Reed had two aces on the night, helped Wisconsin roll on the night, and she said as more of her serves proved difficult to Iowa, the more fun she was having.

“The more I kept getting in the more I was able to drop some,” Boyer said postgame.

After struggling in the opening frame, only hitting .225 on the evening, the Badgers flipped the switch in the second set, hitting .542 and closing out the Hawkeyes in a set that was 25-10. Another senior-celebrant, Izzy Ashburn, said the team wasn’t quite at the normal level after last night’s match against Nebraska, but got back to the regular program in the second set.

“I think we just didn’t come out working as hard as we normally do,” Ashburn said. “We just had to go back to that working in (transition), trusting that other people are gonna do their job.”

In that second frame, not only did Boyer get her multiple kills, but Syndey Reed tallied two kills as well in a serving run. Senior Gabby McCaa got her first kill of the season, while junior middle blocker CC Crawford tallied her 500th career block on the night. The former Kansas transfer posted six kills on the night on just eight swings to go .750 hitting on the night.

In the final set, UW got off to another run to go up 13-4 after a Thomas-Ailara kill that forced a Hawkeye timeout. In the last frame, the Hawkeyes had more struggles as the Badger block began to start cooking, out-blocking Iowa 12-5 on the night. Sophomore middle blocker Carter Booth had six blocks on the night while Crawford tallied five blocks to be in second place.

At the end of the night, UW crushed the Hawkeyes to keep the team likely in a position to take a Top 4 spot in the NCAA Tournament and have the luxury of hosting multiple rounds of the tournament to go with it. Head coach Kelly Sheffield said the way the team ended the season is what was wanted ahead of postseason play.

“(It was) a good win and we finished off the Big Ten season the way that we wanted to be able to finish and onto the selection show on Sunday,” Sheffield said.

Since nothing is confirmed, Wisconsin fans will find out for sure where the team will be in the NCAA Tournament on Sunday night. If the Badgers are selected to host first and second rounds, they will be held in the UW Field House on Thursday, Nov. 30 at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Friday, Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. And if the Badgers earn a Top 4 seed, they’ll host the round afterwards if they win both those matches.