No. 2 Gophers top No. 3 Badgers in five, No. 1 Huskers claim Big - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

No. 2 Gophers top No. 3 Badgers in five, No. 1 Huskers claim Big Ten title

Posted: Updated:
Badgers volleyball Badgers volleyball

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (Per UW Athletics & Cealey Godwin) — The No. 3 Wisconsin volleyball team couldn’t hold off a late Golden Gophers rally, falling in five sets to second-ranked Minnesota on Saturday night.

The Badgers (25-4 overall, 17-3 Big Ten) found progress in the 25-22, 17-25, 25-11, 17-25, 8-15 defeat, as Minnesota (25-4 overall, 17-3 Big Ten) handed Wisconsin its first Big Ten Conference loss in a sweep at the UW Field House on Oct. 12.

“We gave it a heck of a run there,” UW head coach Kelly Sheffield said. “Like I told our team, I think we showed how far we’ve come since the previous time that we played them and can we continue to get better.

“The team is bummed, there was an opportunity there, but I’m not even giving them the night. Usually it’s like, ‘By the time you wake up tomorrow, this is gone’ but we said that by the time they get on the plane tonight, the match is forgotten about. We’ve improved quite a bit since the previous time that we saw them, so how much more improvement can we do in whatever time that we have together?”

Wisconsin hit .269 percent (69 kills – 20 errors – 182 attempts) as a whole, narrowly bested by Minnesota’s .273 hitting percentage (64-19-165). Five Badgers hit double-figure kills in the match, paced by freshman Molly Haggerty with 1. Junior Lauryn Gillis terminated 16 kills while sophomore Tionna Williams hit 12 and redshirt senior Romana Kriskova and senior Haleigh Nelson hit 11 apiece.

Junior Kelli Bates recorded 22 digs in the match, saving her 1,000th career dig, as well as adding a service ace. Haggerty saved 17 digs for her eighth career double-double while sophomore Amber MacDonald contributed 12 digs.

Williams led all Badgers with five blocks, while Nelson stuffed three blocks and Haggerty and Kriskova each tallied two.

Senior Lauren Carlini dished out a season-high 60 assists, also tallying six digs and two blocks.

Wisconsin surged to a 12-9 advantage to start the match, forcing Minnesota to use a timeout after back-to-back attack errors. The Gophers responded with a 6-2 run, reclaiming the lead at 15-14. Following a Minnesota timeout, the teams went point for point to bring the set to a close, and Wisconsin edged out a 25-22 set victory.

Minnesota tied the match 1-1 by holding Wisconsin to a .125 hitting percentage in the second frame. UW stayed hot on Minnesota’s trail, forcing 11 tie points, up to 16-16. The Gophers then pulled away on a 9-1 streak, winning the set, 25-17.

The Badgers rebounded to a commanding 25-11 win in set three, holding Minnesota to its lowest point total in a set this season.

Wisconsin battled in hopes of a four-set victory, trailing by just four points, 13-9, at its first timeout. The Gophers offense widened the margin, hitting 20 kills and only three errors in the frame, and claimed set four, 25-17, to force a decisive fifth period.

Minnesota’s Sarah Wilhite took control of the final set, hitting seven kills in the 15-8 win. Wisconsin trailed 6-4 after consecutive UW kills, but the Gophers offense ran away with the match on a 9-4 surge.

“In game five,” Sheffield explained, “their offense was really good, but that was really predicated by their defense. We had some really nice swings, really good swings, but they were just making phenomenal defensive plays and Wilhite just took over the fifth.”

With the Minnesota win, Nebraska claims the Big Ten regular season title. The Badgers now look ahead to the postseason, expecting to hear their named called when the NCAA volleyball championship bracket is announced on Sunday.

“We’ve got a selection show to worry about tomorrow and we’ve got an opponent to worry about tomorrow,” Sheffield said. “Let’s get healthy mentally and physically and let’s get ready to figure out who our opponent is and then go to this part of our season.”

The 64-team bracket for the 2016 NCAA Volleyball Championship will be announced at 8 p.m. on ESPNU.

Powered by Frankly