July 6, 2014
The Badgers enjoyed their share of success in 2013-14 and now UWBadgers.com is honoring the best student-athletes, teams and performances of the year. Over the next few weeks, we'll unveil the best of the Badgers in five categories: Big Ten Medal of Honor (June 16), Athletes of the Year (June 17-21), Team Achievements of the Year (June 22-27), Games of the Year (July 2-6) and Freshmen of the Year (July 8 -13).
Today we feature volleyball's win over No. 1 Texas in the NCAA Semifinals as a Game of the Year nominee.
2013-14 In Review
MADISON, Wis. - It was a classic battle of David vs. Goliath - No. 1 Texas vs. No. 12 Wisconsin in the 2013 NCAA national volleyball semifinals.
The Longhorns were the reigning national champions and featured a starting lineup with an average height of nearly 6-feet-2-inches. On the other side of the net, the upstart Badgers were making their first NCAA tournament appearance in five years and starting a 5-7 outside hitter and 5-11 middle blocker.
Wisconsin's lack of experience and height was no issue as the Badgers took down Texas 25-19, 25-18, 26-28, 25-23 to advance to the NCAA championship match, the lowest seeded team ever to play for a national title.
How did the Badgers do it? With tough defense, strong serving and great all-around play - the style of play that had gotten them to the national semifinals in the first place.
And the road to the national semifinals was a challenging one.
UW kicked off its first season under head coach Kelly Sheffield with a new spirit and competitiveness. The Badgers went 11-1 during the non-conference season, winning three tournaments and preparing them for the always tough Big Ten Conference.
Injuries played a big role during the season as eight players missed at least three matches due to injury. By the Big Ten season, Sheffield had his starting lineup set but didn't have much depth on his bench.
Wisconsin went 12-8 in conference play, tying for fourth place. The Badgers were getting better with each match and playing their best volleyball late in the season. UW won four of its last five league matches, securing a spot in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2007.
The Badgers hosted first and second round NCAA matches, sweeping Milwaukee and California to advance to the NCAA Regional in Champaign, Illinois. Wisconsin continued to roll in post-season play, downing No. 16 Florida State and No. 19 Purdue at the regional to advance the national semifinals and setting up its battle against No. 1 Texas.
The hype and buildup surrounding a national championship didn't faze the Badgers as they calmly and convincingly dispatched the Longhorns, gaining fans with their style of play.
Even though it lost to No. 2 Penn State in the national championship match two nights later, Wisconsin volleyball was back on the national map and is ready for more in 2014.