Aug. 23, 2012
MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin volleyball team opens the 2012 season by heading south to face three teams at the USF Invitational in Tampa, Fla., Friday and Saturday.
The Badgers take on the University of South Florida Friday evening at 6 before facing off against the University of Central Florida Saturday morning at 10 and Creighton University Saturday night at 6.
Head Coach Pete Waite says his team is ready to start competition and that he is excited for the team to test itself.
“I think you can always say you would like more practice time,” Waite said. “But at a certain point, you have to play somebody else because they’ll challenge you more and show you any weaknesses you have that you can solidify.”
USF is first opponent
Wisconsin’s opening opponent and tournament host, USF, battled to a 12-16 record last season, with one of those loses coming to the Badgers in a 3-0 sweep at the 2011 InnTowner Invitational. The Bulls have a new coaching staff this season though and will have to replace three starters on their roster.
Coach Waite said it is both a challenge and an advantage in preparing for your first opponent of the season.
“We don’t get a chance to see them,” Waite said. “We play them right away so we won’t get a chance to see anything they’ve done before. But the flipside of that, they haven’t seen us either.”
The Badgers are 5-0 all-time against USF but have never faced the Bulls in Tampa.
UCF led by former Big Ten assistant coach
Wisconsin takes on UCF, facing a Knights team that is coming off one of its most successful seasons in program history. UCF put together a 20-11 season in 2011, including 12-8 in Conference USA play, good for fourth place. The Knights return all but one starter this year and have been pegged to finish third in the conference this season.
UCF is led by sixth-year coach Todd Dagenais, who knows how to lead a winning program.
“They’re coach is very good,” Waite said. “He used to be an assistant at USC and Michigan State and he had a big win over USC last year, so we know they’re a competitive team.”
Leading the Knights is junior rightside hitter Angelica Crump, who averaged 4.34 kills per set last season, which ranked in the top-25 nationally among all DI athletes.
Wisconsin is also undefeated against UCF, having claimed a 3-0 victory 15 years ago in the two programs’ only meeting.
Creighton rounds out tournament
Creighton rounds out tournament play for Wisconsin. The Badgers and Bluejays are meeting for the first time ever and Wisconsin can expect a challenging introduction.
The Jays are coached by Kristen Bernthal Booth, who has amassed over 150 victories in 10 seasons at Creighton, including a 17-14 campaign in 2011. The Jays went 12-6 last season in the Missouri Valley Conference, finishing fourth.
Creighton returns five starters from last season, including first-team All-Missouri Valley setter, senior Megan Bober, who averaged 2.36 kills and 6.65 assists per set in 2011.
Wisconsin’s meeting with the Jays marks the first time the Badgers have faced a Missouri Valley opponent since defeating Northern Iowa in first round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament.
Coach Waite said he is happy with his team’s performance in practice and looks forward to getting out and facing new competition.
“I like the progression we’ve seen in preseason camp,” Waite said. “All the things we’ve been working on are starting to come into play. Now it’s a matter of can you do it in front of another opponent.”