Wisconsin (2-0 Big Ten, 11-0 overall) passed their first conference tests of the season, while pretty much acing their match against the strong serving Indiana Hoosiers.
The Badgers took care of IU (1-1, 11-4) in straight sets (25-13, 25-23, 25-18) Sunday afternoon, earning some extra credit for taking care of their service game.
Against the Hoosiers, the conference leaders in aces per set with 2.28, UW tallied six aces with just seven service errors while IU had just two aces on the day. The few nits that Badger fans can pick early in the season have been struggles with serve receive, but head coach Kelly Sheffield felt his team keyed into that aspect of the game against the Hoosiers’ aggressive servers.
“I thought we did a really good job with their big servers and passing,” Sheffield said. “I thought our mentality going in was fantastic and our passers did a great job of getting out of their spin servers.”
The Hoosiers felt the pressure as ace specialist Grae Gosnel and outside hitter Mady Saris each only had one ace compared to one service error and three service errors, respectively. For UW, middle blocker CC Crawford and libero Julia Orzoł had two aces apiece.
Last year, the Hoosiers were able to put 13 aces past the Badgers despite UW winning 3-1 in their second contest of the season. Orzoł said the team prepared for the tough serving and learned their lessons from last year as the Badgers hoped to not stay “stuck in the past.”
“Even if they managed to ace us, we recovered and the next ball was in the game and nothing happened,” Orzoł said.
UW strode out to a big lead in the opening set with the Badgers’ usual bread and butter — blocking — starting as a huge factor. The lead was 12-4 after back-to-back blocks as Wisconsin won 25-13. Crawford and sophomore Carter Booth each tallied four stuffs with UW out-blocking IU 10 to 6.
The Hoosiers bounced back in the second set to keep the frame tighter. Featuring nine ties and two lead changes, UW broke the deadlock with a 3-0 run with the set tied at 17-all. Junior Anna Smrek then finished off the set with the last kill for a team-leading 10 on the day.
In what could’ve been a tricky matchup for UW, the Badgers limited the Hoosiers’ strength and influenced the match the way they wanted it. The Badgers held IU to just .098 hitting while UW swung and efficiently hit .299. Outside hitter Sarah Franklin and senior middle blocker Devyn Robinson both had nine kills and hit over .400 as Wisconsin cruised to stay unbeaten.
UW will next face a road trip to Columbus to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes (1-1, 4-7) on Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m. That match will air on the Big Ten Network.