In a sluggish effort by the Badgers, the No. 15 Wisconsin volleyball team was swept for the second-straight match to the No. 16 Michigan Wolverines Friday night in front of the largest crowd at the Field House this season.
Wisconsin (15-4, 4-3 Big Ten), who has now lost three of its last four matches, committed 26 errors on the match and hit a .119 attack percentage – the lowest offensive clip of the season.
Head coach Kelly Sheffield said the team’s defeat Friday is the weakest effort he has seen from his team all year.
“That was disappointing,” Sheffield said. “Probably the first match all year that we were punch-less. I thought Michigan played like the more desperate team for a victory tonight.”
Wisconsin put forth a strong effort in the first game, keeping within two points of Michigan throughout the game. Down 23-24, junior middle blocker Dominique Thompson connected on back-to-back kills, putting the Badgers up one. But two Badger attack errors in the last four points helped the Wolverines squeak by with a 28-26, a lead they wouldn’t look back from.
Freshman setter Lauren Carlini said a slow 1-8 start in the second game put the Badgers in too deep a hole.
“In the second game, we just started off so slow and so dead,” Carlini said. “It was just quiet out there. It’s hard to come back from a deficit like that.”
Sheffield said a there were a number of blown assignments in the back row on defense. He did not see the diggers in back row adjust their defensive reads according to the blockers.
Sheffield cited a reason for the offensive struggles was a lack of transition game. He said while on defense, the blockers weren’t urgent enough in getting back to an offensive position.
Sheffield said it’s nearly impossible to generate any kind of force on the ball when offensive players stay too close to the net.
“We put a lot of fluff behind the balls,” Sheffield said.
Senior outside hitter Annemarie Hickey said now even as a ranked team and a team that has gained respect in the Big Ten, Wisconsin needs to play with more heart.
“I think it was just lack of fight and wanting to win,” Hickey said. “I feel like we’re just expecting it to be handed to us, and we’re not working hard enough … That’s on our whole team.”