Posted-November 16th, 2012 12:06 am
MADISON, Wis. -- The Wisconsin volleyball team found a formula that worked Friday night against Iowa and stuck to it - keep pace early, spark a big run and take the game handedly down the stretch. The Badgers used this formula successfully three times against the Hawkeyes en route to a 25-19, 25-16, 25-17 sweep at the UW Field House.
The win, which now guarantees Wisconsin (17-13, 5-12) a winning season, comes on Senior Night as the Badgers honored seniors Mary Ording, Alexis Mitchell and Bailey Reshel in a pre-match ceremony. All three also happened to turn in leading performances before the night was done.
“I’m happy that we had a good match on Senior Night,” Head coach Pete Waite said. “The seniors did well and everyone else played hard for them. We had a nice balanced attack and played a solid match. We got half way through each set and pulled away, and I thought that was a good sign.”
The Badgers have now cleared the first hurdle to NCAA tournament consideration—an overall record above .500 for the season. The 17 wins is also the most for UW since going 17-15 in 2008.
Wisconsin opened the match with a 25-19 win in the first set, led by the three seniors. UW and Iowa (10-20, 2-15) battled close throughout much of the set, with the Badgers holding tight to a 15-14 lead. But Wisconsin unleashed an 8-1 run to break the set open, taking a 23-15 lead. Up 24-16, Iowa fought off three set points, but a Hawkeye service error gave the win to Wisconsin. Mitchell, Ording and Reshel combined for 11 kills in the set.
The Badgers only got stronger in the second set, taking complete control of the flow, led by a five-kill performance from sophomore Ellen Chapman. Both teams stood tied 10-10, but once again, late Wisconsin runs broke the set wide open. The Badgers put together runs of 5-1, 7-1 and finally 6-1 to seal a 25-16 victory for the 2-0 lead.
And when something is working, why stop? Wisconsin again held pace with the Hawkeyes throughout the early going of the third set. But up 10-8, the Badgers began to pull away. Wisconsin won 15 of the next 24 points as they completed the dominating sweep.
“Each one of them, I think we got stronger as we went on,” said Waite. “That has been a big part of recent matches. We got to 18, 19 and weren’t finishing, so they did a nice job with that tonight.”
Seniors Mitchell, Ording and Reshel combined for 28 total kills on the night. Mitchell and Reshel both turned in 10 with Ording contributing eight. The trio also finished with a combined 20 digs and eight blocks.
Chapman led all players with 13 kills.
“I just personally needed to start hitting more,” Chapman said. “For the past couple of weeks, I have been very timid and not aggressive and tonight I just tried to swing more instead of tipping and rolling shots, so that helps the team when I’m more aggressive.”
As a team, the Badgers hit .348 (48 kills – 10 errors – 99 attempts), which included a .552 (17-1-29) effort in the second set. Wisconsin out-blocked the Hawkeyes 7-4, with Mitchell lead all players with four stuffs. Iowa hit just .115 (29-18-96) for the match , led by Alex Lovell with seven kills.
Both teams committed their fair share of service errors with the Badgers recording nine errors and no aces while Iowa finished with seven errors and two aces.
Sophomore Courtney Thomas contributed 37 assists while junior Julie Mikaelsen turned in a team-high 13 digs. In a battle of the top-two defensive teams in the conference, Wisconsin outdug the Hawkeyes 43-38.
The sweep, which took just a brief 80 minutes, was the first for Wisconsin at home since a 3-0 win over Michigan on Oct. 7. The win also ends a season-high five-match losing streak.
Wisconsin will look to build its resume over the final three matches, beginning with No. 9 Nebraska Sunday afternoon at the Field House. Match time is 1 p.m.