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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Nittany Lions end Field House magic

The last time that the Wisconsin Badgers' volleyball team lost at home was on September 26 of last year when they fell 0-3 to then-fourth-ranked Penn State.

Fast forward to this past Saturday night and one can almost feel the sense of déjàvu in the Field House.

After a successful 3-0 (30-25, 30-18, 30-20) sweep of No. 18 Ohio State the night before, Wisconsin's 16-match home winning streak was snapped as they fell to the No. 4 Nittany Lions 0-3 (21-30, 25-30, 22-30) once again.

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"I thought Penn State actually played a great match tonight," head coach Pete Waite said. "You know there's a reason that they're ranked in the top four in the nation and they showed us some things tonight that we need to learn and improve from, but I thought they did a lot of things almost flawlessly and Tortortello especially was good tonight."

Sam Tortortello, the all-American senior, set the pace early for Penn State's speedy offense with 40 assists.

The Lions' fast-paced offense was undoubtedly the best the Badgers' have seen all year — even better than that of Missouri, their only other loss on the season.

"They just had a quicker offense than Missouri," said Audra Jeffers, who finished the night with a team-high 11 kills. "Missouri kind of always went out to their two outside hitters and we knew that — it was pretty predictable, but the offense that Penn State ran was just all over the place, we never knew where [Tortortello] was going to set so I think that was more challenging."

Senior co-captains Aubrey Meierotto and Sheila Shaw were not able to form a steady killing attack as they were held to an attacking percentage of -0.65 and -.111, respectively.

However, coach Waite acknowledged that this is what good teams such as Penn State do.

"When you play a better team, they take you out of the game you like to play and that's what we've done to a lot of teams and they did to us tonight," Waite said. "They're definitely a great team and we want to be right up there with them so we'll have to improve a lot before we play them next time."

On the other hand, Penn State head coach Russ Rose was quick to downplay the significance of his team's decisive victory against a top-ranked Big Ten team on the road.

"When the top teams play, it's always good to get a victory, but I think it's more important you just look at how your team is playing," Rose said. "You don't really get caught up in the results because results can change and we play them in three weeks and it can be different, so I don't get too high on the winning aspect of it, but I was very pleased with how we played."

Both teams managed to play well on the block as Penn State barely narrowed Wisconsin on the net by a margin of 12.5 to 12.

Nevertheless, sophomore Taylor Reineke, who led the team with 9 blocks, felt the Badger block wasn't as effective as the Lions' and still needs improvement.

"I think that we need to work on blocking behind and in the middle and its something we need to work on in practice," Reineke said. "I think it was just the fast-pace tempo of the game that was really hurting us on our blocks."

Wisconsin's sub par performance Saturday night was an almost complete opposite from Friday night versus Ohio State.

Wisconsin completely routed the Buckeyes, capitalizing on all aspects of the game as they never let up in the three-game match victory.

In game two, Wisconsin went on an 11-0 run, exhibiting the sheer dominance they often posses.

"I think we took a very good team and played well against them in every category," said Waite of the Ohio State victory. "Especially our blocking was solid. I thought Jackie [Simpson] was spreading out the offense quite a bit, made it tough for their blockers. We had had a good week of practice and it showed."

The Badgers' success this season (13-2, 5-1) has mostly been correlated with their ability to pass and play defense; even Sheila Shaw recognizes this fact as it was evident in both their win and loss this weekend.

"It all comes back to our game and we're really going to focus hard on passing and playing defense every time because we know that's what wins games," she said.

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