At 7-0 in the Big Ten, the Wisconsin volleyball team is rolling over its conference competition. The Badgers (13-2 overall, 7-0 Big Ten) have gone 16 games without a loss and have dropped only two games since the Big Ten season started. They have beaten all seven of their conference opponents this season, with Wisconsin’s most recent victory coming against Northwestern Wednesday night in straight games in Evanston.
Following the win over the Wildcats, UW head coach Pete Waite was pleased to see his winning streak extended.
“I’m happy to go on a road trip and come out of it with a three-game win,” Waite said after Wednesday’s rout of Northwestern, which saw senior middle blocker Sherisa Livingston hit 75 percent.
Following their away victory, the Badgers will remain at home this weekend, where they will host Purdue (2-11 overall, 1-5 Big Ten). While the Boilermakers have struggled so far this season, they are coming off a 3-0 win over IUPUI on Tuesday.
“Tuesday’s win was a good confidence booster for this team,” Purdue head coach Jeff Hulsmeyer said. “We’re looking forward to going back on the road again. The team is hungry to continue winning.”
Senior middle blocker Maegan Petersen and sophomore setter Jen Bova lead Purdue into Madison this weekend to take on the Badgers. Petersen leads the Boilermaker offense with 115 kills on the season and 106 digs on the year. Petersen is also the Boilermakers’ best server after leading the team with 37 service aces last year.
Bova anchors the backcourt for the Boilermakers with 433 assists on the year with 104 digs on the season.
This will also be a homecoming for both Bova and Petersen, as they hail from Milwaukee and Waupun respectively.
But even with the emotional lift a homecoming will give Bova and Peterson, the conference leaders should present a stiff challenge to the Boilermakers.
Wisconsin’s squad is stacked with players who have the talent to dominate a game, with three of the last Big Ten Player of the Week honorees coming from the Badgers’ squad. The most recent honoree is this week’s winner, Lizzy Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald leads the country in assists per game with 14.41 and helped the Badgers defeat Penn State and Ohio State, both nationally ranked teams.
Wisconsin also boasts last year’s co-Big Ten Player of the Year, Livingston.
With the talent of these two players, Hulsmeyer knows what he’s up against this weekend.
“There are not many secrets with Wisconsin,” Hulsmeyer said. “Coming off last year’s national championship, this team is right now the best in the conference. All-American setter Lizzy Fitzgerald does a great job of running the offense, and all-American Sherisa Livingston is of course an outstanding hitter.”
Even though Purdue is among the bottom of the Big Ten’s is statistics, Waite is not looking past the Boilermakers, knowing how competitive and tight every Big Ten match can be.
“We talk about how every match is important in the Big Ten,” Waite said. “You just cannot have a letdown.”
The Badgers enter this weekend riding a tidal wave of momentum. They are in first place in the Big Ten, undefeated in seven conference matches. They have no injuries and are ranked sixth in the country.
For the Boilermakers, freshman Leah Wischmeyer has some ligament damage in her knees and will not play this weekend.