Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Waite praises 10-0 volleyball squad

Halfway through its Big Ten season, the Wisconsin volleyball team has little to complain about and a lot to be proud of.

The Badgers have accomplished every goal thus far and have a perfect 10-0 conference record to show for it.

Head coach Pete Waite discussed Tuesday how his team has performed the first half of the season.

“A big highlight for us is just how well we?ve done in the Big Ten,” Waite said. “No other Badger team has had more than five league wins in a row, and we?ve had ten.”

Coming into this season as the defending Big Ten champions, UW was not the critics? favorite to return as champs. Wisconsin lost several important players from its lineup, and was picked to finish second in the pre-season Big Ten coaches? poll.

Despite the loss of players, including All-American Jenny Maastricht, Wisconsin came out strong early in the season.

Waite mentioned the competitive highlight of his players? season so far was their Sept. 2 win against USC at the UC-Irvine Invitational. Wisconsin defeated USC in the Final Four last season, a win that sent UW to the National Championship game.

Behind the solid play of returning starters and the overall good play of newcomers, the Badgers have remained atop the Big Ten and continually in the nation?s top ten.

Currently ranked fifth, the Badgers have proved to the nation that they intend on returning to the national championship.

Waite also pointed out the many strong individual performances that have gotten the Badgers to the position they are in.

“Individually we?ve had three to four people step up their games,” Waite said “[They have done this] sooner and better than I expected. [Those players are] Lisa Zukowski, Lorrie Rittenhouse, Erin Byrd, and Amy Hultgren.”

In addition to the players having a breakout season, UW has enjoyed the consistently impressive play of perhaps the deadliest tandem in the Big Ten.

Senior setter Lizzy Fitzgerald and senior MB Sherisa Livingston have each had a stellar first half of the season.

Each has earned the title of the Big Ten Player of the Week, and each leads the conference in her respective offensive categories.

Their play and leadership have helped the Badgers reach the midway point unbeaten.
Newcomer standouts:

Waite praised MB Amy Hultgren, a junior transfer, as the most improved player, given the limited time she has had to adjust to the Badger?s game style.

“Hultgren transferred here from Texas, so we only got her this fall,” Waite said. “And she has made great strides in just the two months she has been here.”

Hultgren has recorded an impressive 97 kills this season, and is part of Wisconsin?s formidable front line that leads the Big Ten in kills with 17.67 a game.

Waite also praised freshman OH Jill Odenthal as the team?s mid-season rookie standout. Odenthal, a lefty from Geneva, Ill., is often brought into the line-up when the Badgers are having hitting problems.

“Jill Odenthal is showing great promise on the court,” Waite said. “She?s coming in and really helped us in tight matches, and every day in practices she is showing us some great things.”
Surprises:

The first half of the Big Ten season has yielded few surprises. Wisconsin, Penn State, and Ohio State have dominated, followed by Illinois, Michigan, and Michigan State.

In the pre-season coaches? poll Penn State was picked to win the conference. The Nittany Lions are currently third, losing games to Ohio State and UW.

Ohio State?s only conference loss has come at the hands of Wisconsin. The 10th-ranked Buckeyes will look to avenge that loss this weekend as UW heads to Columbus for a rematch.

When asked what he thought the surprise of the conference has been at the halfway point coach Waite didn?t look very far.
“I think our team has been the surprise in the Big Ten,” Waite said. “We had four major players leave the line-up from a season ago, so for us to be at the top right now undefeated has shocked everybody — and we?re not done yet.”

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