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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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Lorenzen keys UW offensive attack

As the Badgers' volleyball team opened the Big Ten season this weekend with victories over the No. 5 Minnesota Golden Gophers and the Iowa Hawkeyes, the passing game once again proved to be vital to their success.

Wisconsin came into the 2005 season with a reputation as a strong offensive team with their big outside hitters Aubrey Meierotto and Maria Carlini, middle blocker Sheila Shaw, and redshirt freshman Audra Jeffers stepping in at rightside hitter.

However, head coach Pete Waite has strived to make his team known for more than just their offensive power, as passing and defense have been a vocal point of his practice sessions.

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The importance of the Badgers' passing game was apparent in the season's home opener as they defeated No. 11 UCLA with sophomore setter Jackie Simpson leading the way with 41 sets.

As Wisconsin tipped off against the Gophers in the Big Ten season opener this past Friday at the UW Field House, the significance of their passing game became even more evident.

With the Badgers off to a sloppy start early on in the contest with Minnesota, Waite turned to junior setter Katie Lorenzen, as Simpson was struggling to get UW's hitters the ball.

Lorenzen provided Wisconsin with an energy boost off the bench and helped will them to a 3-2 victory with 25 assists. She also tallied three blocks and a career-high six kills with no errors in nine attempts (.667 attacking percentage) in the match.

"It was huge the way Katie Lorenzen came in here and got us on track," Waite said. "She basically got the win for us and she basically gets the game ball for this one … if we gave game balls out."

"It seemed like we [were] kind of disjointed out on the court," he added of the decision to turn to Lorenzen. "It wasn't totally Jackie's fault, I think the passing was off also and they've got some great servers on their team.

"We were just looking for someone to come in and steady us out. I think even when Katie started in there she was struggling with her location a little bit, but as she got out there and settled down she was great."

Lorenzen's impact didn't come immediately when she entered the game, but she gained more confidence with each point to which she contributed en route to victories in game two, four, and five.

"I was a little nervous when I went in. I felt like my hands were shaky, but the team just brings a ton of energy. The crowd was awesome tonight so I got a lot more confidence with every point," Lorenzen said.

In fact, Waite was riding Lorenzen's momentum into the Iowa match Sunday as she started for the first time since Oct. 15 of last year.

"Katie came off the bench on Friday and did an awesome job," Waite said. "She won the match for us basically, came in and just changed the tempo of things, got us on track and had an awesome match so I thought she really deserved the start."

But with the Badgers off to another slow start Sunday in the first match, Waite turned back to Simpson at setter.

"As [Lorenzen] started [Sunday], I felt she wasn't quite as crisp as we needed. The tempo and personality of the team wasn't as high as we needed," Waite said of his decision to return to Simpson.

For Simpson, she holds no grudge in being benched and actually looks at it as more of a learning experience in improving her fundamentals in only her second season.

"[I need to work on my] early draw and hold my phrase on the follow through — those two things, and then everything else will just fall into place," Simpson said.

"It's all about consistency and that's the thing we've been striving for, so it's just finding that," she added.

Whoever gets the nod at the setter position, Waite knows that he can turn to his bench in almost any situation after Lorenzen's ability to step up this weekend.

"We've got two very good setters and on any given day, they're going to step in like any position we have out there — middles, rights, lefts, DS's — people will come in and help us out," Waite said.

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