Wisconsin volleyball extends Big Ten win streak to 13 with sweep - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Wisconsin volleyball extends Big Ten win streak to 13 with sweep of Spartans

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EAST LANSING, Mich. -- The service line played a major role for the Badgers Sunday as the fourth-ranked Wisconsin volleyball team swept Michigan State 25-23, 25-219, 25-22, at the Jenison Field House in East Lansing.

Wisconsin extended its win streak to 13 with the victory, surpassing its Big Ten Conference win total from last season. The triumph also moves UW to a perfect 7-0 on the road in conference play.

Both squads put up five blocks and nearly-even hitting percentages in the match. UW hit .356 (48 kills – 11 errors – 104 attempts) behind senior Ellen Chapman with 13 kills and freshman Kelli Bates with 12. Sophomore Chloe Reinig led all players with 15 kills to help MSU to a .330 (45-12-100) overall attack percentage.

Serving was crucial in the Badgers' victory as sophomore Lauren Carlini tallied three of Wisconsin's six total aces. Senior Courtney Thomas, sophomore Haleigh Nelson and Chapman each contributed an ace. Three MSU players also marked aces, but nine total service errors became a difficult hurdle for the Spartans to overcome in the match.

“I thought we served the ball really well,” UWS head coach Kelly Sheffield said. “We served really aggressively. That was a big emphasis for us going into the match, and I thought we put a lot of pressure on them serving.”

Late in the first set, Thomas served an ace to cap a 3-0 run for Wisconsin that left the Badgers leading 19-16 and seemingly in control. MSU retaliated with two blocks and two kills in the next seven points, knotting the score at 21-21.

The score would be tied twice more, but challenges from the service line proved too much for Michigan State as the Spartans sent two serves out of bounds to give UW a 23-22 advantage. Bates set up the set-point with a kill, and Nelson finished the first set with an ace to mark the team's third ace of the set.

Both teams put away 15 kills in the first set, as MSU recorded a .344 (15-4-32) attack percentage while the Badgers hit .303 (15-5-33). The Spartans committed three service errors in the first, and served two aces compared to UW's three aces.

Wisconsin continued its tough serving in the second set, as Carlini and Chapman each recorded aces to push UW to an early 6-2 lead. The Badger offense put away three consecutive kills soon after to extend the lead to 14-8.

Wisconsin maintained its comfortable lead with a balanced offensive effort. UW was on the brink of closing out the set, leading 24-15 before the Spartans mounted a bit of a comeback, marking two kills and a service ace in a 4-0 streak. But Chapman again swung hard and connected, closing the set at 25-19 for Wisconsin.

Both teams brought stronger attack efforts in the second, as UW upped its hitting percentage to .429 (17-2-35) while the Spartans' increased to .355 (14-3-31). Bates, Nelson and Chapman each contributed four kills for the Badgers. MSU again made three serving mistakes, while UW made two.

The Spartans continued to struggle keeping their serves in-bounds as two more service errors left MSU trailing 5-3 early in the third set. But Michigan State wouldn't go down without a fight, as a string of MSU kills and UW attack errors put the Spartans on a 5-0 run in the heart of the period.

MSU kept the momentum, going on a 4-0 run that resulted in a 15-10 lead for the Spartans. But the Badgers battled back, using a 7-2 run that included two kills apiece by Chapman and Thomas, balancing the score at 17-17.

The score was tied twice more before kills by three different UW players and a big Badger block gave Wisconsin a chance to claim the match at 24-21. Michigan State held off the Badgers for just one more point before Chapman again found a hole in the MSU defense to close the set at 25-22.

Chapman led the Badgers with six kills in the final set, helping the squad to a .333 (16-4-36) attack percentage. MSU's hitting percentage dropped to .297 (16-5-37).

“I thought [Michigan State] had a really nice plan put in place going into this match, and it executed,” Sheffield said. “So this was a tough one. We were back doing what we were doing a week ago, and we're excited about that.”

Wisconsin will see familiar faces in its next match on Wednesday as the Badgers take on conference rival Michigan at the UW Field House after winning an intense five-set against the Wolverines last Friday on the road. The match begins at 6:30 p.m. and will air on Big Ten Network.

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