CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The seventh-ranked Wisconsin volleyball team set up a possible showdown of the only two undefeated teams in the conference with a 30-19, 30-24, 30-21 win over Illinois. The Badgers (10-2 overall, 4-0 Big Ten) are tied with Ohio State atop the Big Ten Conference standings and will face the Buckeyes at home Saturday night.
“We’re happy to be going into a big weekend in the Big Ten 4-0,” Wisconsin coach Pete Waite said. “A couple teams have slipped up, and it’s been our goal to make sure we take care of the ones we’re supposed to beat and then go to battle with the top teams, and I think we’re ready for [Penn State and Ohio State].”
Wisconsin hit over .300 for the third match in a row, hitting .365. The Badgers also held their opponent to under .200 for the fourth consecutive match, as the Illini hit .136. Erin Byrd and Amy Hultgren both hit .455 for the match, while Lisa Zukowski hit .405 and tied Sherisa Livingston with a match-high 18 kills. Byrd added 11 kills to the UW offense, which finished with 63 kills and held Illinois to 32. The Illini didn’t have a single player over eight kills.
“Every time we see a team for the first time in the Big Ten, there are players out there we might not have seen on the court,” Waite said. “Some things can go on that make it difficult for us. I think in all three games we had some huge surges of points where we just took off and really never looked back. I was really happy about that.”
Behind the serve of Erin Byrd, the Badgers broke a 4-4 tie in Game 1. Byrd served five straight points as Livingston slam-blocked two errant Illini passes to put UW up 9-4. Wisconsin gradually increased its lead to 10, 22-12, but Illinois cut it to seven, 23-16. The Illini would get no closer, as the Badgers hit .415 for the game and the Illini hit only .095.
The Illini, aided by four Badger errors, jumped out to a 5-1 lead in Game 2. Wisconsin rallied to tie the game at seven, led by three kills from Zukowski. A 16-12 lead evaporated rapidly as UW committed three unforced hitting errors, allowing the Illini to tie the game at 16. The score remained tied through 23, but Wisconsin outscored Illinois 7-1 to end the game, led by three kills from Livingston to take a 2-0 lead.
Sara Urbanek served the Badgers to a 4-0 lead in Game 3 as UW got over its third-game jitters. Wisconsin led 11-3, but Illinois cut it to four at 13-9 off two Badger hitting errors. That was as close as the Illini would get as the Wisconsin defense stayed strong.
The Badgers finished with three players in double-figures in digs to finish with a 57 to 40 advantage as a team. Lori Rittenhouse and Korie Gardner led all players with 12 digs a piece. Gardner’s dig tally was a career high. Lizzy Fitzgerald added 10 digs and put up 47 assists. She shared team-blocking honors with Livingston with three blocks apiece.
“I thought Korie Gardner made some big digs late to keep things exciting for us and not let Illinois back in the match,” Waite said. “Overall, really good balance with our offense. We accomplished what we wanted to do, to come down here and get the win, and even better, we got the win in three games.”
The Badgers also beat Indiana in three games Friday night in Bloomington. The 30-15, 30-23, 30-26 sweep featured four players hitting over .400.
Women’s soccer: Wisconsin remained winless in the Big Ten after Sunday’s loss to the Michigan Wolverines in overtime, 1-0. The Badgers (3-4-2, 0-3-1 Big Ten)
are 1-1-2 in overtime this year and have not scored in their first four Big Ten games.
“It’s really a painful, bitter taste in our mouth,” coach Dean Duerst said. “Because our team hung together today and played extremely well.”
Coming off a 0-0 tie against Michigan State in double overtime Friday night, the Badgers played well through regulation. Even when Wisconsin senior captain Allie Rogosheske (St. Cloud, Minn.) received a red card and was ejected from the game in the second half, the shorthanded Badgers picked up their game.
“As the game went on, we became a tougher team,” Duerst said. “I was happy to see the character exhibited today.”
One of the Badgers’ best chances to score came in the second half when they were playing with 10 players. Freshman Sarah Capel (New Berlin, Wis.) sent a pass to junior Lauren Schmidt (Milwaukee, Wis.) that just went wide. Michigan capitalized in the extra period.
Stephanie Chavez scored with less than five minutes left in overtime to lead Michigan to a 5-4, 3-1 record.
“It was a tough loss,” Duerst said. “We’re looking forward to one thing: playing Iowa Friday night.”
Men’s soccer: The University of Wisconsin men’s soccer game against Ohio State that had been scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m. has been postponed following the sudden and recent death of OSU freshman Conner Senn. UW and Ohio State coaches and officials have agreed to move the game to Sunday, Nov. 4 at 1 p.m.
The match was postponed so the entire Ohio State team and coaching staff could attend the memorial service for Senn at 4 p.m. Sunday on the Denison University campus in Granville, Ohio. The McPeek Funeral Home in Granville is in charge of arrangements.
Senn, a native of Granville, collapsed during the second half of Ohio State’s game at Akron Wednesday night. He was attended to by the medical staffs from both schools and then transported to Akron City Hospital by ambulance. Cause of death is listed as an unspecified cardiac event.
— compiled from staff reports