April 16, 2014
MADISON, WIS. -- In its final home stand of the spring season, the Wisconsin volleyball team reminded fans and opponents why it finished the season ranked No. 2 in the country. Facing in-state rival Marquette, the Badgers sounded off and swept the Golden Eagles 3-0 in a 25-12, 25-17, 25-22 victory on Wednesday night at the UW Field House.
Despite not having competed in a full match since December, Wisconsin did not appear rusty. The team smoothly integrated new faces into the lineup and showed signs of the powerful offense fans saw last fall.
“I thought it was a good effort by everybody,” said UW head coach Kelly Sheffield. “It’s spring. There are not a lot of coaches who are happy in the spring. We’re getting better individually. I thought all of our kids did a nice job tonight. They played hard. They’re trying to figure things out.”
Junior Ellen Chapman, who recorded her 1,000th career kill last November, headed the offensive charge for the Badgers with 11 kills. Fellow junior Deme Morales, who shared rotations with freshman Taylor Fricano, added eight kills on the night, and Dominique Thompson put up six. Fricano, who took a redshirt for the fall season, saw action on both the right side and outside, adding five kills.
Freshman Haleigh Nelson led UW at the net, picking up six blocks, including one solo. Courtney Thomas added three stuffs but also contributed defensively as a passer.
“I think Courtney is going to be a really good passer for us,” Sheffield said. “Getting her more reps in a match situation in front of a crowd. I thought she did a decent job of that today. She’s just going to get better and better. She has a really good feel for the ball.”
UW breezed by MU in the first set, winning by 13 points with a red-hot offense. The Badgers hit a .423 (12 kills-1 error-26 attempts), led by Chapman, who had five kills on the period. The Glenview, Ill., native also recorded back-to-back services aces. Defensively, Wisconsin out-blocked Marquette 4-0 on the set and went on to win with ease, 25-12.
Marquette came out with more fire to take the initial lead of the second set. Wisconsin countered with a 6-1 run to pull ahead, but two blocks by the Golden Eagles tied it up once again at 11-11. The Badgers then took hold of the reins, going on an 8-0 run to win 25-17.
After battling back-and-forth through the start of the third set, UW pushed ahead to a five-point lead at 15-10. MU narrowed the lead to two points, taking advantage of two overpasses by the Badgers. The Golden Eagles were able to battle through two set points, but Wisconsin capitalized on the third to win the set 25-22 and finalize the sweep.
Due to a technical error, complete second set and cumulative stats are not available.
“These guys want to play,” Sheffield said of his team. “They want to play against other people. Because of graduation and departures and health, we’re not able to play six-on-six in practice. To have somebody out there where the ball is going back and forth, our kids are fired up about it.”
The Badgers wrap up their spring season as they head to Big Ten Conference rival Minnesota for the Minnesota Spring Invitational on Saturday, April 26.