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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Badger volleyball falls to Northwestern

For the first time in 28 meetings, the Wisconsin Badgers volleyball team (14-6, 5-4) lost to Northwestern (13-8, 6-3). The Badgers continued their roller-coaster season with a 30-22, 43-41, 30-24 loss to the Wildcats.

“This team needs to be stronger, mentally, from day to day,” said UW head coach Pete Waite. “They need to execute their role better, and they need to go out and go after the win. Every team is going to come after them, and Northwestern played well, but we did open a door for them to let them take the game.”

Statistically, the match was pretty balanced; both teams had two players in double-figure kills. Erin Byrd and Jill Odenthal had 16 and 15 kills, respectively, for the Badgers. Erika Lange and Iwona Lodzik put down 19 and 14 kills, respectively, for the Wildcats who edged the Badgers 59-55 in team kills. Lange hit .500 percent to lead Northwestern over Wisconsin .294-.240 percent. Sheila Shaw led all hitters at .583 percent (8-1-12).

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The Badgers out-blocked the Wildcats, 9-8, in team blocks behind four from Shaw. Neither team played well in the backcourt with Northwestern finishing with a 39-37 advantage in digs. Korie Gardner led the Badgers with eight digs.

The biggest difference in the match came at the serving line where Northwestern kept Wisconsin off-balance with 11 service aces and only five service errors. The Badgers had only four aces, led by three from Morgan Shields, and nine service errors. Shields had 47 assists running the UW offense.

“We just shanked too many balls, 11 aces (for Northwestern) — that just can’t happen in a match,” said Waite. “That’s just not being strong enough mentally to step in there and execute the skill.”

The Badgers struggled with their passing and defense early in Game 1. The Wildcats jumped out to a 12-6 lead behind the serve of Sarah Ballog. Ballog served four straight points including one off an ace to put Northwestern up by six. The Wildcats extended their lead to 11 (22-11) off another service ace. Odenthal led a Badger rally with five kills to pull UW within five (24-19). Unfortunately, Wisconsin couldn’t stop Northwestern’s offense, which had 21 kills and hit .349 percent for the game.

Game 2 featured both teams serving for a combined 14 game points. The Badgers served to tie the match at one game apiece eight times, but the Wildcats responded each time with a kill to keep the game tied. A Northwestern block and kill from Lodzik ended the longest UW match under rally scoring.

Northwestern broke a 14-14 tie in Game 3 with a kill and service ace from Lindsay Pavlik to go up 16-14. Wisconsin trailed 19-22 but two consecutive Badger hitting errors made the Wildcat lead 25-19. Wisconsin would get no closer than five (28-23) off two Shaw blocks as Northwestern won for the first time since 1988.

“We obviously lost a lot of mental strength from last year’s team and a lot of physical talent,” said Waite. “This group is finding out how hard it is to achieve that from day to day and they’re searching and we’re all trying. We feel we still have a lineup in there that can get it done, but then they have to do it when they walk onto the court.”

Wisconsin resumes Big Ten Conference play Saturday when it takes on ninth-ranked Penn State in University Park, Pa. Match time is 7:30 ET in Rec Hall.

— compiled from staff reports

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