Playing for the first time since their 2013 NCAA runner-up finish, the Wisconsin volleyball team opened the spring season with drills at Marquette on Wednesday. It didn't seem like it has been nearly four months since the last time the Badgers were on the court as most of the faces were very familiar.
The Badgers traveled 13 players to Marquette with nine
seeing playing time. The injured brigade of Victoria Ito, Kt Kvas, Julie
Mikaelsen and Caroline Workman didn't play though all four have been
practicing this spring.
After the hour-and-a-half drive down I94, the team arrived at the Al McGuire Center about 6 p.m. While the warm-ups were shorter, they looked the same as last fall - peppering with a partner and then stretching followed by some hitting.
Coach Kelly Sheffield, the 2013 Volleyball Magazine National Coach of the Year, spent some time while the teams were warming up, chatting with new Marquette head coach Ryan Theis. The two are old Ohio buddies as Theis was the coach at Ohio University when Sheffield was at Dayton. Did you know Kelly recommended Theis for the Golden Eagles job?
The two spent nearly two hours playing six-on-six volleyball, though with a modified scoring format.
Theis called the first drill - each team served 15 times with each serve being followed by a setter pass then a free ball. The Badgers won three out of four times and had their most success when Deme Morales was in the front row. The 5-7 left-side hitter continued to impress fans with her leaping and hitting ability.
Sheffield took the second drill with the teams playing 26-6. The Badgers had to score three straight in order to get one big point while Marquette scored normally. The Golden Eagles won a tight first contest 26-5 while the scoring was reversed in the second with Wisconsin winning 26-3.
Sheffield experimented with several different line ups on the night, freely substituting players during the action. Courtney Thomas played on the right front and left front while Ellen Chapman saw time in the back row. Redshirt freshman Taylor Fricano also saw lots of action - mainly on the right side but also on the left front. Fans will be impressed with her jumping ability this spring and fall.
The Badgers didn't lose much at libero with the graduation of Annemarie Hickey as Taylor Morey held her own in the back row.
All in all, it was a successful first outing for the Badgers. They were a little rusty at times, especially on the block, and the changing line-ups also affected the team communication. The goals are high for the team this fall and lots of hard work this spring will help them reach those goals.