Oct. 4, 2012
MADISON, Wis. - Head coach Pete Wait is ready to get his Wisconsin volleyball team (13-4, 1-3) back on track this weekend when the Badgers take on No. 25 Michigan State and Michigan at the UW Field House. The Friday/ Sunday series follows three straight losses by UW, all to ranked teams.
“It is important because you've got to start getting at least splits on the weekend in the Big Ten play if you're going to make the tournament,” Waite said. “That's the challenge. I think these are two teams that we're very similar to. We've got a good shot at. We've got to feel good about the game and ourselves to get the wins here.”
No. 25 Michigan State (14-2, 2-2) has split its first two weekends of play, defeating Indiana and Iowa so far, while dropping matches to then-No. 13 Purdue and No. 6 Nebraska.
The Spartans swept the Badgers last year, taking a pair a 3-1 matches both home and away. Historically speaking, Wisconsin has taken care of business handedly against Michigan State. UW owns a 43-24-1 overall record, including 24-6 in Madison.
Junior Lauren Wicinski, a 6-1 outside hitter, who transferred from Northern Illinois, leads the team with 4.43 kills and 0.63 service aces per set. Senior Amy Dentlinger, a 6-1 right-side hitter, adds 2.75 kills per set while sophomore Taylor Galloway, a 6-1 outside hitter, chips in 2.36 kills per set.
“Michigan State has a transfer from Northern Illinois—Wicinski—one of the top attackers in the country. That was a nice gift for them,” Waite said. “They graduated four kids, so she's really doing well for them.”
The Spartans square off with the Badgers at 7 p.m. Friday night.
Wisconsin has Saturday off before returning to the Field House court again Sunday at 1 p.m. to face Michigan (14-5, 2-3). The Wolverines own almost identical conference results to MSU, having defeated Iowa and Indiana while losing to Purdue, Nebraska and most recently, a 3-1 loss to No. 10 Minnesota on Wednesday night.
UM has a balanced offense with four players averaging 2.2 or more kills per set. Junior Lexi Erwin, a 6-1 outside hitter, leads the team with 3.81 kills per set. She also has a team-best 19 service ace (0.28) while adding 2.54 digs per set.
Freshman Kelly Murphy, a 6-0 outside hitter, adds 2.81 kills and 0.29 service aces per set. Junior Jennifer Cross, a 6-4 middle blocker, chips in 2.49 kills per set while hitting a team-best .332.
The Badgers won both matches against Michigan last season in 3-1 fashion. Historically, Wisconsin has dominated the Wolverines, owning a 45-17 all-time record. The Badgers are 31-4 over their last 35 matches against MU. Wisconsin has only ever lost three times to the Wolverines in Madison and just once since 1993.
Friday’s match will be broadcast on a delayed basis at 10 p.m. that night on the Big Ten Network. Dan Kelly and former Badger Liz (Tortorello) Nelson will provide the on-air commentary. Nelson played for Wisconsin from 1988-91, earning two All-Big Ten honors.