The Purdue women’s volleyball team came into the Wisconsin Field House Saturday night looking to vent some steam. Instead, the Boilermakers (2-13, 1-7 Big Ten) fell to the sixth-ranked Badgers (14-2, 8-0 Big Ten) in three straight games, 30-22, 30-21, 30-16.
Wisconsin held Purdue to a .036 hitting percentage, as the Boilermakers were only able to convert 23 of 96 attacks, while committing 17 errors. On the other side of the net, UW hit .264 with 50 kills and 17 errors on 110 attack attempts.
Badger head coach Pete Waite knew that the struggling Boilermakers would bring all they could to the court to overtake the Badgers.
“Purdue was trying hard to do everything to get a win,” said Waite. “We knew they’d love to do it here and they did some nice things, but we just steadied out and eventually separated the points to get some big wins.”
The Badgers were led by sophomore outside hitter Lisa Zukowski, who had one of her best games of the season. Zukowski ended the match with 15 kills on 22 attempts. She hit a season-high .636 while only committing one error.
Zukowski was also a terror away from the net, as she led all players with five service aces and 12 defensive digs. Junior opposite hitter Lori Rittenhouse also recorded three service aces to aid the Badgers in tallying a three-game season-high 11 aces. On the defensive effort, senior setter Lizzy Fitzgerald notched a match-high five block assists. She also added to her NCAA-leading assist total by controlling the UW offense with 41 assists.
However, many of the eyes of the 5,395 fans in attendance were on senior middle blocker Sherisa Livingston, who entered the night 25 kills shy of the all-time UW record. Although her attempt to break the record was 10 kills short, she still pounded the Boilermakers with 15 kills and one blocked shot.
“I saw that [I was 25 kills shy of the record] before I came in and thought, ‘Ahh, it’d be nice to [break it] at home,'” said Livingston. “Then I thought about it some more and thought if I think about that I’m not going to play well, so I put it out [of my mind] until after the match.”
The night did not bring any fun and games for Purdue, as only two players were able to muster a positive hitting percentage. Sophomore middle hitter Eryn Leach paced Purdue with 11 kills on 20 attempts for a .550 hitting percentage.
The only other player on the positive side was freshman middle hitter Lyndsey Phillips who recorded five kills for a .133 hitting effort. The Badgers held senior outside hitter Maegan Petersen to only two kills and a negative .167 hitting percentage. Coming into the game the Waupun, Wisc. native was leading the team in kills and digs per game.
But this game it was Livingston that stole the show, as game one started and ended with her. She began the match with a kill to give the Badgers an early lead, as they eventually jumped out to a 21-13 start.
Although Purdue was able to get within six points when it cut the lead to 25-19 off the serving of Milwaukee native Jen Bova, Wisconsin ended her effort with a kill by Livingston.
The Badgers held Purdue to a negative .032 hitting percentage and 11 errors.
Game two looked to be a repeat of the first game as Livingston notched a kill to take a 1-0 Badger lead. However, the sluggish play of UW enabled the Boilermakers to take a 6-5 advantage before a kill by Zukowski tied it at six-all.
Purdue fought back to take the lead again before UW’s Erin Byrd tallied a kill to tie it up at 12. From that point on, Wisconsin never looked back. The Badgers quickly turned the tied game into a 24-17 advantage, before closing it out fittingly with a kill by Livingston.
Following the match Waite addressed the slow start to the second game.
“At times we were making errors ourselves,” said Waite. “It wasn’t necessarily something great [Purdue] was doing…we were making a lot of unforced errors which is something you can’t do in rally scoring.”
Game three was all Wisconsin as they took an early 7-3 lead. Purdue was able to tie it at nine a piece, but was never able to take a lead. UW turned the tie into a 30-16 pounding, as Purdue was limited to a .000 hitting percentage as they tallied four kills and four errors on 25 attempts. PU’s Petersen was able to break out of a slump recording one kill and one dig.
The victory over Purdue was the sixth straight match the Badgers won three games to none. They remain as the only undefeated team in the Big Ten.