Volleyball: Badgers drop Fighting Illini in four sets

first_imgThe Wisconsin volleyball team can finally chalk up a conference victory in the win column.After losing three straight games for the first time in coach Kelly Sheffield’s tenure and starting 0-2 in Big Ten play for the first time since 2010, the Badgers got a much needed conference win against a highly ranked opponent.No. 19 Wisconsin (9-4, 1-2 Big Ten) defeated No. 7 Illinois (11-3, 2-1) 3-1 after a thrilling fourth set comeback that saw the Badgers come roaring back after being down by as many as five midway through the game.After a media timeout that saw Wisconsin down 15-12, the Badgers tallied 10 of the next 12 points to put the Illini in a huge hole. Illinois tried to surmount a late rally, but a Tionna Williams spike and a final miscue from the Illinois frontline proved the Badgers to be too much for the visiting team.The Badgers got off to a hot start winning the first set 25-16 led by Haleigh Nelson’s perfect shooting percentage and Lauren Carlini’s 53.8 percent set rate.“I think we came out with a really great game plan,” Carlini said. “And the passers just putting [the ball] right down the net for me to make it way easy to execute. So, props to them for that. Every single game I’m building more and more confidence with my hitters and I think the hitters are gaining confidence in me, and knowing where I need to put the ball — giving it to them at the right time.”Carlini parlayed the Badger’s first set success into a 25-21 Game 2 victory that had the Illini on their heels.Romana Kriskova, who had arguably her best game of the season, led the Badgers with five kills in the second game and had a team high 15 for the match.“I tried to come out strong from the beginning and put pressure on the Illinois defense. I was glad that Lauren trusted me,” Kriskova said.Illinois, to their credit, would not go down without a fight, proving their high ranking by stealing the third set, 25-21, from the sweep-minded Badgers.But the Badgers know these early battles will only better prepare them for a rugged season ahead.“Being put in those situations … really trains us for other matches, where maybe we are doing well, but then in the set three and four, they’re coming back and we have to have that confidence and that stability,” Nelson said.When asked how the early season schedule will prepare the Badgers down the road, all head coach Kelly Sheffield could do was smile.“It’s the Big Ten, brother,” Sheffield said. “We’re not off the hook. This is every week.”last_img

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