Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


No. 6 Minnesota steals one from No.14 Wisconsin

In one of the most highly anticipated matches of the early Big Ten volleyball season, No. 6 Minnesota beat No.14 Wisconsin in five games Friday. The match left the Gophers with a victory, but also left many doubts as to whether or not they were the better team.

Perhaps the most competitive game of the evening between the Gophers (17-2 overall, 4-0 Big Ten) and the Badgers (11-4 overall, 2-2 Big Ten) was the first one.

The game started out with both teams battling out intense rallies. The game went back and forth as Lisa Zukowski, Erin Byrd and Lori Rittenhouse pounded hit after hit down the left and right sides against a stifling Minnesota defense.
With the score at 21-21, freshman middle blocker Sheila Shaw came off the bench and responded immediately with a huge kill and a grin to accompany it.

“For her first time in there for such a long period of time, she was blocking balls and making some scramble plays that just got our whole team excited,” head coach Pete Waite said. “She had some great shots on her slides and was scoring at critical times for us.”

UW ended the game with only 12 total kills while Minnesota ended with 11 kills, both unusually low numbers. The numbers show how well both teams performed on defense.

The second game of the match was more one-sided, as the Badgers came out extremely tough. They were able to build a 20-11 lead after dominant serving by Byrd, who had back-to-back aces, as the Gophers seemed dazed and unorganized.

After building this impressive lead, Minnesota soon crept back into the game and the Badgers seemed to play as if they were trying not to lose.

At the end of the game the Badgers were up 29-28 with the chance to put the game away, but instead went on to lose the game 32-30, putting UW down two games to none in the match.

After a short intermission in between games, UW came out and played like a completely different team.

Byrd, Rittenhouse and Shaw came out firing, easily ripping kills through the Gopher defense.

With the crowd noise at a peak, the team rolled to a 30-17 win. Byrd had five kills and Shaw and Rittenhouse had four kills each.

Coming out in the same fashion in game four, the Badgers continued to pour it on and dominate as they built an 11-4 lead, forcing the Gophers to take a time-out.

After the time-out, Minnesota got back into the game and got as close as 20-18 before UW took off again, outscoring Minnesota 10-2 in the last 12 points of the game, making the final score 30-20.

Each of UW’s tri-captains took control in this game, as Byrd and Rittenhouse had six kills each and setter Morgan Shields had 17 assists.

With the series tied at 2-2, the teams were forced to play a deciding fifth game, which goes to 15 points instead of 30.

The fifth match started out close, as the two teams battled back and forth, but Minnesota started to pull ahead and built up a 5-2 lead, which is sizeable in the shortened fifth game.

The Badgers clawed back to tie the game at 6-6, but were unable to put any more pressure on the Gophers as they pulled ahead 11-6 and cruised on to a 15-10 win.

“It unfortunately came down to the fifth game, and we broke down,” Waite said. “In a 15-point game you don’t have that luxury of coming back.”

Looking at the essential statistics, the Badgers should have been victorious.

The Badgers had more kills (73-53), a better hitting percentage (.181-.081), more assists (68-45), more digs (89-73) and more blocks (15-12).

“It is a great win for our program, and I wish we could say that we played well, but we didn’t,” Minnesota head coach Mike Hebert said.

“If you look at the stat sheet, it is difficult to determine how it was we won the match. We just played the big points well.”

The team is not getting down, however. Members felt their play put them in a good position to continue the season.

“Watching us play, we got better as a team–we really did,” Waite said. “We just have to get stronger at critical times. We just have to know how to finish and stay disciplined and focused.”

Playing against a struggling Iowa (6-8, 0-4) team Sunday, the match was a totally different story.

The Badgers dominated each game, winning 30-15, 30-21 and 30-19.
Byrd and Zukowski each had 11 kills while Amy Hultgren and Shaw had 10 kills each. Shields led the offense with 50 assists and Byrd led the defense with 11 digs.

“I thought that was a good win coming off our loss Friday night to Minnesota,” Waite said.

“Today we came out and played a solid game. I thought Iowa kind of broke down in some areas and we stayed steady.”

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