After an upsetting loss against No.16 Michigan, No. 15 Wisconsin (16-4, 5-3 Big Ten) bounced right back to take home an exciting win Sunday afternoon at the UW Field House. The Badgers showed improvement in every area on the court and topped the match off with an incredible energy that the No. 5 Michigan State Spartans (17-3, 6-2 Big Ten) could not compete with.
Determination is what freshmen setter Lauren Carlini said brought home this big win against such a talented team.
“We knew we had to prove ourselves after our loss the other night and we were hungry for it today. The game definitely becomes a lot easier when you have energy on the court, so it was really a lot more fun today.”
Wisconsin’s serving was critical in helping them take home the win. Despite getting aced a season-high six times, the Badgers aced the Spartans four times and forced them out of their offense multiple times with tough serves. Along with the aces, service errors brought down the Spartans as they recorded 13 errors, compared to nine for the Badgers.
“In this conference you have a lot of opportunities to get knocked around and you have a lot of opportunities to do the knocking around as well,” head coach Kelly Sheffield said.
We can win with really good serving and really good ball control, knowing our assignments and being very tough and hard-nosed defensively. I thought we were great in all those areas and that’s why we were able to come out with a win.”
Junior Courtney Thomas knew serving played a big role in the win as well. “We were serving and serving and taking their hitters out. We knew who they were going to set to because of who was passing.”
The Badgers are also taking on a whole new identity this year, bringing out strengths no one knew they had.
“We’re trying to establish some type of identity with this team,” Sheffield said. “Every team, every year is establishing some type of identity and we think we are probably a blue collar, grind it out team. I mean, who are we kidding? That’s this school, this state. You think of the great teams and the great sports over the past and that’s kind of been their personality, and we’re trying to take that personality on ourselves.”
The Badgers strong service and amped-up energy also helped keep the Spartans at a .000 hitting percentage in game three.
“Just balling out,” Senior Annemarie Hickey said is what kept the Badgers on their A-game.
“Going for every ball, giving an effort for everything and just knowing Lauren is going to be there to set the ball. [Michigan State] is a great hitting team, we just wanted to go in there with a defensive mentality. Saying they are going to get their kills but we don’t want to get frustrated. We are going to keep setting out, keep getting those digs for our hitters to hit.”
The strong service got the momentum rolling in Wisconsin’s favor and brought intense rallies that ended in their favor. Carlini knew that this momentum would work to their advantage.
“We know that as those plays are going on, the momentum is switching. Whoever wins the point at the end of that is going to get that swing of momentum,” Carlini said. “For the most part we were on the winning side of those, that really helped going on to the next few points.”
With their aggression coming through to the other side, the Badgers took home an exciting win, upsetting the Michigan State Spartans.
“We served aggressively but we also executed and that’s one of the things we talked about,” Sheffield said. “There is carelessness behind the serving line … and then there’s executing tough serves and tonight we did both of those.”