Oct. 23, 2009
MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin volleyball team fell in four sets to No. 8 Illinois on Friday. The Badgers lost by a score of 24-26, 27-25, 25-10, 27-25 in front of 4,364 fans in the UW Field House.
"We got down in both of the first two sets big, but came back and really had the momentum and had a shot to get that second set," head coach Pete Waite said. "I think that was really the important difference in the outcome. Illinois is a very good team, a very steady team. They answered just about everything we did. I feel like we weren't totally on our game tonight, and if we were, I think the outcome would have been much different."
The Badgers reverted to their old ways as they struggled offensively, connecting on just .058 percent of their shots.
Brittney Dolgner and Allison Wack led UW offensively. Dolgner put down a team-high 13 kills, while Wack added 11. Janelle Gabrielsen controlled UW's offense, dishing out 32 assists.
The Badgers edged out Illinois in digs (51-50), with Kim Kuzma leading the way with a match-high 16 saves. However, the Fighting Illini further inhibited Wisconsin 's offense by out-blocking it 19-5. Johannah Bangert led Illinois with a match-high 14 stuffs.
"We made some mistakes swinging in to their block, and they had a very good block," Waite said. "Again that's just part of what we had in the game plan was to go around, go up the top and for some reason tonight the girls just weren't quite on their hitting game."
Laura DeBruler and Kylie McCulley highlighted the Illinois offense. Both scored 16 kills, and McCulley maintained a solid .308 hitting percentage.
The Badgers allowed Illinois to take an early 7-1 lead in the first set. Despite trailing for a majority of the set, UW continued to chip away at the Fighting Illini's lead, eventually tying the score at 22-22. Wisconsin then took its first lead of the set at 23-22 behind a block by Alexis Mitchell and Gabrielsen. Illinois responded in kind with another block to knot the score up again at 23 all. The score was tied yet again at 24 after an exchange of service errors before UW finally finished off the set with a block by Kirby Toon and Gabrielsen to win 26-24.
The second set was back and forth featuring 13 ties and six lead changes. With the score tied at 14, the Badgers strung together a 3-0 run to take a 17-14 lead. It wouldn't last for long, as Illinois once again tied the score at 19. With a 25-24 lead following a service ace by Kuzma, it looked as if Wisconsin was on the verge of closing out the set. However, the Illini quickly fought back and won the set 27-25.
Illinois carried its momentum into the third set, where it jumped out to an early 11-3 lead over Wisconsin . The Badgers would not be able to get their offense rolling as Illinois cruised to a 25-10 victory. Both DeBruler and McCulley led the Fighting Illini with 11 kills in the set.
Wisconsin came out strong in the fourth set and quickly took an early 5-0 lead over Illinois . The Badgers maintained this lead until Illinois was able to whittle it down and even the set at 18. UW was about to take the set after establishing a 24-23 lead. Illinois , however, battled back once again to snatch a 27-25 match victory.
"The third set was kind of ugly, we just did not pass the ball but the nice thing about our sport is you can start again, and we did in the fourth," Waite said. "We came back pretty well, but again, had a set point to take it to a fifth, but we weren't quite able to hold them off."
The Badgers continue their homestand Saturday when they take on Northwestern at 7 p.m. in the UW Field House.