No. 4 Badgers volleyball traps Hawkeyes in straight sets - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

No. 4 Badgers volleyball traps Hawkeyes in straight sets

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IOWA CITY, Iowa –It was a straight victory Saturday night as the fourth-ranked Wisconsin volleyball team swept Iowa 25-21, 25-13, 25-18 at the Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

The triumph puts the Badgers (24-2 overall, 15-1 Big Ten) just one win short of the school record with their 15th-straight Big Ten Conference win.

Wisconsin recorded a season-high nine service aces with two aces apiece from freshman Kelli Bates, sophomore Haleigh Nelson, junior Taylor Morey, and senior Kt Kvas. It was a career high for Bates while Morey tied her career best.

“Serving was really key,” UW head coach Kelly Sheffield said. “I thought we kept them off-balance, we worked different planes of the court and those are always things we try to do.”

The Badgers hit over .300 for the 13th time this season, connecting on .319 (44 kills – 14 errors – 94 attempts) percent of their attacks against the Hawkeyes, who hit .191 (33-16-89).

Bates and Nelson led all players with 11 kills each, followed closely by senior Courtney Thomas with 10 kills and a team-best .500 (10-1-18) attack percentage. The Hawkeyes (13-14, 5-11) were led by Taylin Alm with 10 kills.

“You go through a season and you continue to try to find ways to make your team better, and that's what we're doing,” Sheffield said. “We're trying to find ways to get better and as players develop their game over the course of the season, you try to highlight some of that, and I thought our outsides did a really good job of playing smart and hitting the right shots.”

UW outblocked Iowa 8-6, led by Nelson with five blocks.

The Hawkeyes went on a 9-3 run early in the first set to take a 14-11 lead. But a balanced Badger offense retaliated, as three different hitters tallied four kills in a 6-0 run that left Wisconsin leading 17-14. UW also served two aces in the streak. Iowa rallied to balance the score at 20 before back-to-back line-drives by Bates and Nelson pushed Wisconsin to a 22-20 lead. Serving became crucial as Iowa made its second service error of the set just before Kvas sent an ace through the Hawkeye defense to give Wisconsin a set-point opportunity at 24-21.

One chance was all Wisconsin needed, as a bad set by the Hawkeyes awarded UW the 25-21 win.

Iowa recorded more blocks and a greater hitting percentage than Wisconsin as it hit .323 (11-1-31) behind six kills from Alm. The Hawkeyes also utblocked UW 4-1 as the Badgers recorded a .275 (18-7-40) from the net. Wisconsin tallied three aces while Iowa served two.

Wisconsin brought the heat early in the second set, taking six straight points on back-to-back service aces by Bates to create a comfortable 8-3 advantage. After alternating the next few points, the Badgers again found rhythm from behind the service line as a 5-0 run fueled by Morey's two service aces extended UW's lead to 16-7.

The Hawkeyes managed a 3-0 run soon after, but could not overcome their inconsistency at the net as three quick attack errors left Iowa trailing 24-13. One more successful swing by Ellen Chapman claimed a 25-13 set victory for Wisconsin.

Wisconsin's hitting percentage soared to .458 (11-0-24) in the second set, led by Thomas with four kills. Iowa's hitting percentage dropped to .100 (12-9-30). The Badgers outblocked the Hawkeyes 3-0, and marked four service aces in the winning effort.

Bates began the offensive strike for UW early in the third set, driving home three kills in five points to give Wisconsin a 4-2 lead it would never relinquish. Wisconsin was relentless on all fronts, as it increased its lead to 10-5, capped by another service ace from Kvas.

After maintaining a solid lead through the middle of the set, Thomas connected with three straight kills to push UW to 17-11 lead. A Carlini ace gave the Badgers match point at 24-18 before Nelson and Thomas teamed up for a block to award UW the 25-18 set-win.

UW recorded two more aces in another successful set of serving. The Badgers also held strong at the net, outblocking Iowa 4-2 and hitting .267 (15-7-30) compared to Iowa's attack percentage of .143 (10-6-28).

The Badgers host No. 12 Illinois at the UW Field House on Wednesday. The match begins at 7 p.m.

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