Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Virginia, Marshall, Cincinnati visit Madison for tourney

With the Big Ten Conference season right around the corner, the Wisconsin volleyball team welcomes Virginia, Marshall and Cincinnati to the UW Field House for this weekend’s InnTowner Invitational.

The last non-conference matches of the season will be the last chance for the young Badgers (3-2) to gain court experience before jumping into league play.

“We’re a team trying to find where we’re going to be before Big Ten play because we’ve got so many new kids out there,” head coach Pete Waite said.


As expected with a young and inexperienced team, UW has seen its share of highs and lows in the early going. While they would like to be sitting at 5-0, the Badgers have plenty of reasons to be positive heading into this weekend.

“Obviously we didn’t want to lose, but we take a lot away from our losses,” junior middle blocker Sheila Shaw said. “We’re really working on our weakness and hoping to bounce back and get these wins this weekend.”

Shaw was one of two Wisconsin players to earn all-tournament honors at last week’s Jayhawk Invitational in Lawrence, Kan. Freshman libero Jocelyn Wack joined Shaw on the all-tournament squad, averaging 4.55 digs per game in the three matches. UW finished 2-1 in the tournament.

Another freshman, middle blocker Taylor Reineke, enjoyed a breakout match in Wisconsin’s loss to Kansas. Reineke racked up 10 kills with a .600 hitting percentage and also pitched in five blocks. As a result, the 6-foot-3 rookie earned her first career start against Rhode Island.

“They are doing so well,” Shaw said of the newcomers. “Their personalities are so awesome. They’re always willing to learn and work hard — that obviously always helps right there. I think we’re going to see some really great things from them this year.”

The Badgers’ biggest challenge of the InnTowner could come in their first match, a Friday night meeting with Virginia (8-1). Fresh off a 3-1 win over Towson Tuesday night, the Cavaliers have now won seven matches in a row. Their only loss came at the hands of Louisville, who at the time was ranked No. 20.

Virginia’s leading offensive threat thus far has been freshman outside hitter Sarah Kirkwood. The 6-foot Kirkwood has racked up 5.39 kills per game this season, all the while hitting at a .359 percentage. She is joined on the outside by 6-foot sophomore Lindsay Osco who averages 3.18 kills per game. Osco also contributes defensively with 3.57 digs per game, tops on the team.

In the middle, the Cavaliers look to senior Alexis Geocaris (3.15 kills per game). The 6-foot-1 middle from Wilmette, Ill., leads Virginia with 1.08 blocks per game. Running the offense is sophomore setter Emily Kirkwood, Sarah’s older sister. She is averaging 13.04 assists per game this season.

Virginia also has a Wisconsin native on its roster, junior outside hitter Lisa Krolikowksi who hails from Hales Corners, Wis., and attended Pius XI High School.

“They’re off to a good start,” Waite said of Virginia. “They’ve got a couple kids from the Midwest here, so I know they’ll be bringing a lot of family and friends along.”

Wisconsin will begin play at noon Saturday, matching up with Marshall (4-3) for the first-ever meeting between the two schools. The Thundering Herd defeated Morehead State twice by the score of 3-0 last weekend.

“Marshall, they’re kind of rebuilding this year,” Waite said, “but they have been strong in the Mid-American Conference.”

Leading the way offensively for Marshall is freshman outside hitter Kelly-Anne Billingy. A big outside hitter at 6-foot-3, Billingy hits at a .327 clip and averages 5.48 kills per game. The production falls off behind her, when the Thundering Herd looks to sophomore outside hitter Christin Bimber (2.35 kills per game) and junior middle blocker Amber Sims (2.33 kills per game). Junior setter Katie Stein, a Sussex, Wis., native, averages 9.71 assists per game.

The final match of the round-robin tournament for UW will come against Cincinnati Saturday night. The Bearcats (5-2) will be anxious to snap a two-match losing streak this weekend. They feature Muskego, Wis., native Julie DuPont, a 6-foot senior All-American, at outside hitter. DuPont, who attended the same high school as Wisconsin’s Shaw, averages 4.70 kills per game. Junior Maria Pongonis adds 4.09 per game.

Sophomore setter Noel Olson runs the Cincinnati offense, putting up 10.17 assists per game.

“Cincinnati is a very strong team,” Waite said. “They’re 5-2 right now, but they’ve got the player of the year in Julie DuPont, who is from the Milwaukee area coming back in.”

Wisconsin will look to duplicate its InnTowner success of a season ago, when it finished the tournament undefeated with victories over North Carolina State and Duke.

“It’s going to be strong,” Waite said of the 2004 field. “It’s going to be a great challenge, but for us, it’s more or less getting our act together on our side of the net and I think if we create the tempo that we need to and the level of play, we’re going to be fine.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Badger Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Badger Herald

Comments (0)

All The Badger Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *