The UW volleyball team opened its home season this weekend while hosting the Badger Invite tournament. This was Wisconsin’s first regular season appearance on their home court since their amazing run to the national championship title game last season.
As they took the court to face Ball State at the Field House Friday night, the Badgers were enthusiastically greeted by the Wisconsin faithful
In front of a crowd of 2,524, UW athletic director Pat Richter honored the Badgers for their accomplishments last season by unveiling Wisconsin’s 2000 Big Ten Championship banner and their NCAA Finalist banner.
Energized by the excitement in the Field House, the Badgers soundly defeated the Cardinals in three games 30-28, 33-31, 30-16.
The first two games provided the fans with the competitive excitement they have grown to love about the UW volleyball team. In the third game, the Badgers proved why they are the third-ranked team in the nation by controlling the momentum of the game, taking the victory over the Cardinals while dominating every statistical category.
The Badgers’ second home game was played under very different circumstances. Played on Saturday at noon, UW’s game against Ball State happened at the same time as the football team was taking on Fresno State just outside of the Field House in Camp Randall Stadium.
While there may not have been as many cheering Badger volleyball fans as the night before, Wisconsin still defended their home court and defeated St. Louis in four games: 30-13, 30-15, 27-30, and 30-11.
The Badgers outhit the Billikens .374 to .066, and recorded almost twice as many kills.
Coming into the final game of the Badger Invite, the two undefeated teams of the tourney competed for the Invite title. Wisconsin and Northern Iowa faced off at 7:00 p.m. Saturday, and the crowd of 2,654 was treated to two hours and 15 minutes of competitive volleyball.
The Panthers came out strong, surprising the Badger team and fans by taking the first game 30-22. Head coach Pete Waite’s Wisconsin team regrouped and refocused in the second game, winning it decisively 30-18.
After the break, the Badgers were again caught off guard early in the match and had trouble battling back against the strong defense of Northern Iowa. The game came down to the final points, with the Panthers coming out victorious 31-29.
As in the second game, in the fourth game the Badgers jumped out to a quick lead and then controlled the momentum of the game while overtaking Northern Iowa 30-24.
The fifth and final game was to be played in rally scoring format to fifteen points, with the victorious team having to win by two. The lead went back and forth in the game, but ultimately the Badgers fell to the Panthers 15-13.
The tournament championship went to Northern Iowa, and the defeated Badgers were obviously upset about losing their tournament on their home court. It was an emotional game that saw Wisconsin fight back from behind only to lose in the final game by two points, and it obviously took its toll on the UW volleyball team.
However, the Wisconsin volleyball faithful cheered on their home team as loudly as if UW had won in straight sets. In a home court tradition that marks the end of every volleyball game, the Badgers lined up to sing a tear-filled rendition of “Varsity” mid-court with the Bumpin’ Badgers kids fan club.
Although the team would have liked to retreat to their locker room after the heartbreaking loss, the entire squad stayed on the court to sign autographs for the UW fans. Showing pride and dignity in their wins, as well as their losses, the Wisconsin volleyball team gave their home crowd something to really be proud of this weekend.