Badger volleyball team opens season with 3-0 win over Louisville - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Badger volleyball team opens season with 3-0 win over Louisville

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MINNEAPOLIS – The sixth-ranked Wisconsin volleyball team kicked off the 2014 season in a similar fashion as they ended the 2013 season. The Badgers swept Louisville 25-16, 25-22, 25-17 at the Big Ten/ACC Challenge to open the year with a win.

“I thought we served the ball pretty well except in a couple of instances,” head coach Kelly Sheffield said. “I thought we put a lot of pressure on their passers. Offensively, we had some moments where we were in rhythm. Those were probably the two biggest things.

“Our kids were really, really hyped and you almost have to get them calmed down a little.”

Wisconsin won the match with an impressive offensive performance. The Badgers hit .305 (46 kills – 14 errors – 105 attempts) with two players in double digits. Seniors Ellen Chapman and Courtney Thomas led UW with 11 and 10 kills, respectively. Senior Dominique Thompson put away nine kills while sophomore Haleigh Nelson added eight kills.

Sophomore Lauren Carlini put up 39 assists running the Badger offense.

The Cardinals hit .217 (34-14-92) behind 10 kills from sophomore Jenelle Jenkins.

UW served up six service aces, forcing Louisville out of its offense for much of the afternoon. Chapman and Carlini both had two aces. The Badgers did not get aced in the match as the Cardinals had nine service errors compared to seven for Wisconsin.

Junior Taylor Morey earned the start at libero and recorded a match-high 16 digs. The Badgers finished with a 41-39 edge in digs.

“I thought ‘T' did a really good job,” Sheffield said of Morey. “I would actually like her to cover a bit more ground - be a little more unselfish back there. When she got her arms on the ball, she had a really good match.”

Both teams recorded only three blocks with UW being led by Nelson with two block assists.

“I thought our hands were a little bit soft up there at the net and I thought our back row wasn't aggressive enough,” explained Sheffield of his team's defense. “I hope that is an area that will look a lot better tomorrow night.”

Wisconsin jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the first set behind two service aces from Carlini. The Badgers upped their lead to 14-7 off two straight kills by Nelson and never allowed the Cardinals closer than five points the rest of the set. UW hit .306 (16-5-36) while Louisville connected on just .129 percent (8-4-31) of its attacks.

Tough serving gave the Badgers an 11-4 lead in the second set but Louisville outscored UW 8-1, including six straight, to tie the set at 12. The Cardinals tied the set two more times, including at 16-16 before Chapman led a 3-1 run. The outside hitter had two kills and a block to give UW a lead it would not relinquish. Louisville hit .303 (14-4-33) for the set while the Badgers hit .273 (18-6-44).

The Badgers got back on track in the third set, leading from the first serve. UW upped its lead to 11-7 off a kill from freshman Kelli Bates. Bates added her first collegiate service ace to put Wisconsin up 14-9. The Badgers hit .360 (12-3-25) in the third period to cruise to the sweep.

“(Bates) first college kill was probably something that you dream of,” said Sheffield. “She's a dynamic athlete and it's going to take her a little time to get her where we need her to go. She adds an element to this team that we really like.”

The Badgers improve to 28-13 all-time in season openers, including 18-7 mark on the road.

Wisconsin wraps up its weekend of play against Notre Dame on Saturday at 4 p.m.

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