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Coming from behind: Volleyball rallies from 0-2 deficit to remain undefeated

Game Photo
Northern Iowa Wisconsin 3, Northern Iowa 2
Bentson Bunker Fieldhouse • Fargo, N.D. • Attendance: 915

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1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
 Northern Iowa
27 25 22 23 9
25 20 25 25 15
 Stats Leaders
S. Kintzel - 19 Kills Thomas - 18
Caldwell - 51 Assists Carlini - 52
S. Kintzel - .562 Hit %
Nelson - .571
Held - 16 Digs Morey - 19
C. Kintzel - 13 Blocks Nelson/Carlini - 6
Two tied - 1  Aces Hickey - 2
 Stats Comparison
 Kills 64 66
 Hitting Pct. .195 .203
 Assists 60 61
 Service Aces 2 6
 Digs 62 65
 Total Blocks 19 12
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Sept. 6, 2013

FARGO, N.D. -- Coming back from a 0-2 deficit in the match, the Wisconsin volleyball team improved to 4-0 on the season with a 25-27, 20-25, 25-22, 25-23, 15-9 win over Northern Iowa (1-4) in the opening round of the NDSU Classic on Friday evening.

 Fast Facts
• Badgers rally from 0-2 deficit
• Freshman Lauren Carlini earns first UW start
Courtney Thomas leads UW with 18 kills

After losing the first two sets, first-year head coach Kelly Sheffield had some words of advice for his team.

“Between (sets) two and three, I told them it’s been at least four years that we’ve come back from 0-2,” said Sheffield. ”The message is this is a new thing for our team and let’s go. When I was talking to them, you could tell they believed what I was saying.”

In fact, it’s been nearly 10 years since the Badgers lost the first two sets and came back to win a five-set match. The last time was a 3-2 win over Northwestern on Sept. 26, 2003.

The Badgers struggled early in the match as Sheffield changed his line up for the third time this season. This time it was freshman Lauren Carlini, the 2012 Gatorade National Player of the Year, earning her first career start at setter for the Badgers. Carlini’s start moved junior Courtney Thomas, the UW’s setter the last two seasons, to outside hitter for the first time at Wisconsin. 

“We got a new setter who set in her first collegiate match,” explained Sheffield. “We have an outside hitter who’s hitting in her first match outside. It’s going to take a while. It’s going to take some time to work through our tempo and timing and what different people can do. The thing I really liked is that we didn’t give up on the process.”

After dropping the first two sets by close scores, the Badgers continued to get better as the match went on. Wisconsin broke an 18-18 tie in the third set, outscoring the Panthers 7-4 over the stretch to win its first set.

In the fourth set, UW took a 24-23 lead on a kill by Thomas while a service ace from Taylor Morey sent the match to the fifth set.

After getting outblocked for most of the match, the Badgers got two early blocks from freshman Haleigh Nelson in the fifth set to take a 4-1 lead.  

“Those were two really big blocks to start game five and that gave us a lot of momentum,” said Sheffield.

Wisconsin extended its lead to 9-3 in the fifth set on another block by Carlini and Dominique Thompson. UNI would hold off two Badger match points before a kill from Ellen Chapman gave UW the win.

Thomas led the Badgers with a career-high 18 kills while Chapman added 17 kills. Senior Annemarie Hickey added 13 putaways.

Carlini finished with 52 assists while adding six kills, eight digs and sharing team-high honors with six blocks.

After hitting just .116 and .103 in the first two sets, the Badgers finished the match hitting .203 (66 kills – 31 errors – 172 attempts) while UNI ended up hitting .195 (64-31-169). 

UW edged Northern Iowa 65-62 in digs as sophomore Taylor Morey led all players with 19 digs. Thomas and Hickey both recorded double-doubles, tallying 15 digs apiece.

The Panthers outblocked the Badgers 19-12 as Nelson joined Carlini as UW’s best blocker with six stuffs. Nelson also added a career high eight kills and hit a match-high .571 (8-0-14).

“The person I thought was fantastic and we don’t win this match without her is Haleigh Nelson,” said Sheffield. “We didn’t get her the ball enough early on but once we did that, she’s driving in some big swings and she opened things up for other people. She’s the reason why we got our hitting percentage going the last three sets.”

Wisconsin continues play at the NDSU Classic on Saturday, facing host North Dakota State at 12:30 p.m. and No. 17 Louisville at 4:30 p.m.

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