Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


UW searching for late-season surge

[media-credit name=’MATTHEW KUTZ/Herald photo’ align=’alignright’ width=’336′]carlini1_mk_filtered416[/media-credit]With just four matches remaining in the regular season, the UW volleyball team has much to play for in the next two weeks — second place in the Big Ten, revenge for past defeats and final Field House matches for two seniors.

But there is most definitely one word that seems to have become the theme in the Badger locker room: momentum.

"Everyone knows they're huge, since we're in the race for second place," libero Jocelyn Wack said. "It's just huge to get some momentum going into the last part of the season and into the postseason."


No. 15 Wisconsin, No. 17 Ohio State and No. 19 Minnesota all stand at 11-5 in the Big Ten following Purdue's (10-6) unexpected loss to Illinois, which dropped the No. 18 Boilermakers a game behind the pack.

The No. 2 Penn State Nittany Lions (25-2, 16-0) wrapped up the conference title long ago, so UW is set upon clinching the runner-up slot going into the opening rounds of the playoffs, beginning Dec. 1.

"This weekend, we're really hoping to get some momentum going into the NCAA tournament with two big wins and carry it over into the tournament," opposite hitter Audra Jeffers said.

Getting two wins in a weekend is always a tall task for teams in the Big Ten. In the past four weekends, the Badgers have split matches, and it all started with a road trip to Michigan State and Michigan. Wisconsin will have a chance against these same teams this Friday and Saturday to put an end to the streak.

"They're both really good teams, so we can't underestimate them," said outside hitter Maria Carlini, who came close to playing for the Wolverines three years ago. "We just need to go hard and see if we can carry some momentum into the tournament."

Hmmm … anybody sensing a pattern here?

Yes, the Badgers have stumbled in the past month, and momentum has not been on their side during the stretch. But Wisconsin has an opportunity to regain confidence over their final four matches, as none of the last four opponents are currently ranked.

Conversely, Minnesota has three ranked opponents on the horizon, including powerhouse Penn State, and the Buckeyes. While the latter matchup is Ohio State's only remaining ranked competitor, Wisconsin holds the tiebreaker against OSU, meaning the Buckeyes are in need of some help from Badger opponents.

Of course, none of this means anything to the UW players, who realize the focus must stay on their play on the Wisconsin side of the court.

"We just have to battle and fight hard, just our passing, solid defense," Carlini said. "We're known as a blocking team, so we have to live up to that reputation."

Carlini grew up just 45 minutes from Ann Arbor, and planned on attending the University of Michigan when she was younger. However, after being recruited for and deciding to play for Wisconsin, Carlini hit a career-best 29 kills against her hometown team on Oct. 22.

But seeing as the Badgers lost 16-14 in the fifth game, Carlini would rather get the victory this next time around.

"At Michigan, we were missing (senior) Aubrey (Meierotto), who's obviously a huge part of our team," Carlini said. "But Michigan's always the match that I get really excited about, so I just want to fight hard, and hope we can do well."

Wack, who carries a 56-match double-digit digs streak into the weekend, said the team has worked hard in order to take care of business against MSU and Michigan.

"It will be nice to be back in front of our home crowd," she said. "We were out of sync last time, but you have to give both teams credit, they're both tough. But I think this time, we're more prepared, we're more focused."

Jeffers said there have been some changes on the court in preparation for the home stretch going into the tournament.

"We've been working a lot on our passing, and I think it's improved a lot since the last time we played the [Spartans and Wolverines]," she explained. "We're adding in a back-row attack now, so there are just a few different things that should help us."

And the final bit of incentive of Senior Night cannot be overlooked. Meierotto and Sheila Shaw will be honored on Saturday night before their last regular-season home match.

"I'm really sad to have them leave. They just bring so much to our team," Jeffers said. "They're great leaders; we can look to them when we need a big point in a match. They've done a great job of carrying us this year."

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