Whoever said that the third time’s the charm obviously never made it to a Wisconsin women’s volleyball match. This past weekend in their Big Ten opener, the Badgers were able to quiet the attacks of the Michigan State Spartans and Michigan Wolverines, but failed to do it in three games. Instead, UW was forced to play a fourth and deciding game in both matches.
“The third game is one we have to work on,” said Badger head coach Pete Waite. “Our goal is to try to get that third game and be done in three so we don’t have to worry about a fourth.”
In Friday night’s third-game loss to the Spartans, UW had a measly .073 hitting percentage, while MSU connected on 25 percent of its attacks. Michigan State also managed to out-dig (16-10), out-block (2-0), and out-kill (16-13) the Badgers. After committing seven service errors in the first two games, the Spartans were able to reduce the errors to two in the third game, while two service aces added to their win.
“Change of match-ups actually gave us better technical serving,” said MSU head coach Chuck Erbe. “We were able to create some situations in the third game that allowed us to win.”
MSU’s change of rotation stumped the Badgers to the point that it became evident that they were unable to adjust. After tossing the lead back and forth, the Spartans were able to overcome a 25-all tie and capitalize on UW’s hitting errors, as they scored the next five points to take the game.
“They changed their rotation around so we had different match-ups,” said Waite. “We had different people against different blockers and it just freaked [the team] up a bit more. [The changes are] hard to pick up.”
Despite the third-game falters, Wisconsin was able to adjust its rotation and bring a new game to the court at the start of the fourth games. In both matches this past weekend, UW dominated the final game, solidifying the Badgers’ No. 9 national ranking.
“It becomes a chess game,” said Erbe. “We’re creatures of habit. You find something successful, you stay with it. You’re not going to suddenly change. So [Wisconsin] changed [in the fourth game] and they got a more preferable match-up for them. It worked out that the fourth game was a relatively easy game [for the Badgers].”
On the bright side for the Badgers, it is nice to know that even if they can’t close it out a match in three games, they eventually will. They just decide to be different — for them, the fourth time’s the charm.