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Badgers drop five-set match at No. 10 Nebraska

Game Photo
Wisconsin 23 Wisconsin 2, 10 Nebraska 3 
Devaney Center • Lincoln, Neb. • Attendance: 8,277

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1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
23 24 25 32 6
25 26 22 30 15
 Stats Leaders
Thomas - 18 Kills Robinson - 29
Carlini - 49 Assists Pollmiller - 54
Carlini - .278 Hit %
Pollmiller - .400
Hickey - 23 Digs Robinson - 22
Nelson - 10 Blocks A. Rolfzen - 8
Hickey - 2  Aces Three tied - 1
 Stats Comparison
 Kills 63 71
 Hitting Pct. .195 .236
 Assists 60 64
 Service Aces 5 3
 Digs 76 84
 Total Blocks 13 17.5
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Oct. 5, 2013

LINCOLN, Neb. -- After an eight-match win streak, the Wisconsin volleyball team lost its second match of the season Saturday night in Lincoln, Neb. The Badgers dropped a 23-25, 24-26, 25-22, 32-30, 6-15 decision to No. 10 Nebraska, their first loss in Big Ten Conference play. The Badgers are 14-2 overall this season and 3-1 in the Big Ten.

Nebraska (11-2, 4-0 Big Ten) took the first two sets by two points each with Wisconsin rallying to win the third and fourth sets. After battling back-and-forth the entire match, the Cornhuskers were the team to finish it off in the fifth set, winning by nine.

 Fast Facts
• Courtney Thomas tied her career-high with 18 kills
• Deme Morales recorded sixth double-double of season, and freshman Lauren Carlini tallied ninth career double-double
• Four sets were decided by three points or less

“We played hard, our effort was there (but) we’ve got to execute a little bit better when it’s on the line,” said first-year head coach Kelly Sheffield. ”We did a decent job through the first four games of being able to execute, but you’ve got to be better. Obviously, it’s a heck of a conference. It’s hard to win on the road.”

The Badgers jumped out to a 10-7 lead in the first set and upped their lead to 16-9, but three straight Badger errors made the score 20-18, and the Huskers eventually overcame their seven-point deficit to win 25-23. Blocks were key this set, as Nebraska out-blocked Wisconsin 6.5-1.

Despite enjoying a .324 attack percentage (14 kills - 3 errors - 34 attempts) during the second set, the Badgers were unable to recover from a 19-14 deficit. Wisconsin managed to stick with it in a set that featured seven ties, but it wasn't quite enough. Seven kills from senior Kelsey Robinson ensured the set win for Nebraska in extra points.

Wisconsin came from behind in the third set, which featured seven ties and three lead-changes. Once again, the Badger offense out-hit Nebraska with a .256 attack percentage (13-3-39) and this time it was enough to win the set.

The fourth set was a nail biter with 20 ties and seven lead changes as UW scored the second-most point in a 25-point rally scoring set in program history. The Badgers served for set-point seven times total and were finally able to finish off the set thanks to a block by junior Ellen Chapman and freshman Haleigh Nelson. This time it was the Wisconsin block that made the difference as UW had seven stuffs.

The fifth set was a different story as the Badger offense took a complete turn-around, hitting negative .120 (4-7-25), and essentially handing Nebraska a nine-point win. The Nebraska defense out-blocked Wisconsin 4-0 to win the set.

"We had our opportunities each of the games... and we weren't able to do it," said Sheffield. "It was two teams that were battling really, really hard." 

Wisconsin's offense was led by three juniors with double-figure kills. Courtney Thomas tied a career-high with 18 kills. Deme Morales followed with 13 kills, and Chapman put away 10 to round out the Badger offense.

The Badgers hit .195 (63-26-190) for the match while Nebraska hit at .236 (71-28-182) clip.

Defense keyed the Nebraska win. The Huskers outblocked the Badgers 17.5-13 and tallied 84 digs compared to Wisconsin's 76. Senior Annemarie Hickey, who started at libero for the first time since September, led all players with 23 digs. Freshman Lauren Carlini had 14 digs along with 49 assists for her ninth career double-double and Morales chipped in 11 digs for her sixth double-double of the season.

Haleigh Nelson tallied a career-high 10 blocks for the Badger defense.

Both teams were plagued by service errors, with Wisconsin recording 16 total service errors compared to 12 from Nebraska.

Nebraska's offense was led by Robinson, who put away 29 kills for the Huskers, while Meghan Haggerty added 13 kills.

"I’m proud of this team of battling back, down 0-2. I think this team’s got a lot of fight," Sheffield said. "We've just got to get in the practice gym. We’ve got to watch some video and we’ve got to find ways to get better."

The Badgers continue their four-match Big Ten road trip against No. 12 Ohio State on Friday, Oct. 11 before closing out the trip at No. 5 Penn State on Saturday, Oct. 12. 

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