Clean play nets Badgers sweep


Oct. 7, 2012

Wisconsin 3, Michigan 0
UW Field House • Madison, Wis.
Game Photo

1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
 Michigan 20 18 20 -- --
 Wisconsin
25 25 25 -- --
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• Attendance: 3.704
 Stats Leaders
Michigan Wisconsin
Cross - 10 Kills Mitchell -14
Dannemiller - 27 Assists Thomas - 38
McElheny - .312 Hit %
Ording - .500
Morales - 12 Digs Hickey - 16
McElheny - 3 Blocks Mitchell - 5
Three with 1  Aces Hickey - 4
 Stats Comparison
MICH WIS
 Kills 35 48
 Hitting Pct. .114 .327
 Assists 32 42
 Service Aces 3 5
 Digs 38 46
 Total Blocks 6 7
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MADISON, Wis. -  It felt like a long time coming, but the Wisconsin volleyball team picked up its first Big Ten Conference home win of the season, snapped a four-game losing streak and regained some much-needed confidence with a 3-0 win (25-20, 25-18, 25-20) over Michigan Sunday at the UW Field House.

While a tough stretch featuring four-straight ranked teams has not made life easy for the Badgers (14-5 overall, 2-4 Big Ten) recently, it's been the self-inflicted errors that have really hurt Wisconsin. But after committing a total of 46 hitting errors over their last two losses, the Badgers committed just 13 Sunday.

"We talk about it all the time, not giving any easy points to the other team," head coach Pete Waite said. "Sometimes in the past people have been trying to force some extra hard shots or swings and then their arm comes through a little too fast for the ball hasn't even arrived yet basically. I think they were just much more composed today and they weren't trying to force things and it just came naturally."

 Fast Facts
• Hitting .327, the Badgers turned in their fourth-best hitting percentage of the season.
• Wisconsin out-blocked its opponent for the fifth-straight match. The Badgers have not been out-blocked through the past 16-straight matches.

Courtney Thomas picked up her ninth double-double of the season with 38 assists and 11 digs.

• Wisconsin is now 27-3 all-time against Michigan when playing in Madison.

The Badgers began the match strong, winning their first opening set since Sept. 21 against Northwestern, with a 25-20 win. Trailing 11-10, Wisconsin opened some breathing room will four-straight points behind the serving of junior Julie Mikaelsen. But the Wolverines (14-6, 2-4) responded to tie the score at 15-15 and it remained close through 19-19. From there, the Badgers took over with a 5-0 run, forcing set point. An errant serve from junior Annemarie Hickey extended the set to another point but sophomore Crystal Graff made sure it went no further, sealing the victory with her fifth kill in the set.

Wisconsin opened the second set in clinical fashion, jumping out to a quick 8-3 lead, playing near-perfect volleyball through the first 17 points. Three hitting errors for the Badgers over the next eight points brought the Wolverines right back into the set at 13-12. The Badgers responded with a 4-0 run to regain a comfortable 17-12 lead and never looked back. Up 24-18, sophomore Courtney Thomas put down one of her two kills in the set for the 25-18 win and 2-0 lead in the match. Wisconsin hit .355 in the set (13 kills -2 errors -31 attempts), with no attack errors over the final 21 points.

UW took the lead early in the third set, up 7-4, before Graff committed an error on the next point--snapping 33-straight points played without an attacking error for the Badgers. The Wolverines then fought back to force a 12-12 tie midway through the frame. From there though the Badgers pulled away with 5-1 run for a 17-13 lead, eventually opening up a 21-15 lead off one of senior Alexis Mitchell's eight kills in the match. Just like the first two sets, the second match point was the charm as Wisconsin sealed the win.

The win was Wisconsin's ninth sweep this season but first in Big Ten play.

"I think we served tougher," Waite said. "I think that kept Michigan out of their offense and the things they wanted to do. Overall, just a good balanced team effort and that's what we always aim for."

For the match, the Badgers turned in a .327 hitting percentage (48-13-107), their fourth-best average on the season. Wisconsin also out-blocked its opponent for the fifth-straight match, taking a 7-6 edge over Michigan Sunday. The Badgers have been out-blocked just twice this season and not since the third match of the season.

UW's defense held the Wolverines to a .144 (35-19-111) hitting percentage as only Jennifer Cross put away double-digit kills with 10. The Badgers also kept Michigan from running its offense with five service aces, including four from Hickey.

Mitchell finished the match with 14 kills to lead the Badgers, while Ellen Chapman added nine kills. Graff (8), Mary Ording (7) and Mikaelsen (6) contributed to the UW's balanced attack.

"We talked about the diggers and the digging and the passing was really on point today," Mittchell said. "And I was just working on getting up quickly because I knew that I could beat their middles if I was running fast and Courtney was just finding me in the air. We were really connecting today and it worked out pretty well."

Thomas recorded her ninth double-double of the season with 38 assists and 11 digs. Hickey led Wisconsin with 16 digs and Mikaelsen added a season-high 10 saves. Mitchell also led the Badgers in blocking Sunday with five.

"I really liked what I saw out there out of us this afternoon," Waite said, "It's what we've always been capable of. It was the consistency we're looking for in the passing, the defense, the attack percentages and that made for a good afternoon for us."

After four straight home matches, Wisconsin heads back on the road next weekend to play at fourth-ranked Nebraska Friday night and Iowa Saturday night. Start time for both matches is 7 p.m.

ON WISCONSIN
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