Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Badgers looking to take next step

Members of the 2006 University of Wisconsin volleyball team are entering the season with high goals for themselves and higher expectations for their fans. After two consecutive years of making it to the Elite Eight and finishing second in the Big Ten last year, the Badgers aim to go one step further.

"We all work hard in practice for our goal of being Big Ten champions and doing well in the [NCAA] tournament," senior outside hitter Maria Carlini said.

In order to do that, UW will have to replace two graduating seniors in two-time all-Big Ten middle blocker Sheila Shaw and outside hitter Aubrey Meierotto.


"Everyone needs to step up their game that much more because we did lose two great, phenomenal athletes," said the team's floor captain Carlini.

However, the Badgers are returning four offensive starters from last year in Carlini, junior middle blocker Taylor Reineke, junior setter Jackie Simpson, and sophomore opposite hitter Audra Jeffers, while also returning the libero, junior Jocelyn Wack.

To replace Shaw and Meierotto, UW head coach Pete Waite will have to turn to his bench and the incoming freshmen. Senior Amy Bladow, who mostly came off the bench last year, figures to see a lot of playing time in 2006. Sophomore outside hitter Morgan Salow will see her playing time increase as well, and redshirt freshmen Katherine Dykstra should also provide some help in the middle.

The incoming freshman class of Brittney Dolgner, Caity DuPont and Nikki Klingsporn will be looking to make an impact on this season, with Dolgner likely to crack the starting lineup. This group was ranked the No. 5 recruiting class in the nation by Volleyball magazine.

But according to Waite, the group's high ranking does not translate to added pressure for the freshmen to perform well.

"When they come in the gym with us and realize it is a huge step up, they definitely forget about those rankings because they know they've got a lot to learn," Waite said.

As a team, Wisconsin entered the season ranked ninth in the CSTV/AVCA Division I Coaches Top 25 preseason poll. They were also predicted to finish second in the Big Ten this year by league coaches. Jeffers was chosen as the only Badger on the preseason all-Big Ten team.

"It just goes to show that [at] Wisconsin, we are a team," Carlini said. "I think that with other schools that have a couple players [on the preseason All-Big Ten team], it shows that they only have one or two strong hitters or strong players and we are a team.

"That's awesome, having a balanced attack; you never know where to go."

Wisconsin opened the season by hosting the AVCA College Volleyball Showcase with No. 8 Texas, No. 15 Ohio and the defending national champion, No. 3 Washington.

"It's fantastic to be able to host this tournament," Waite said. "It's a great honor that the AVCA selected us. There are some great teams here. It gives us an NCAA tournament atmosphere right away."

The Badgers opened up the tournament losing to Texas 30-28, 30-18, 30-22. They rebounded the next night and beat Ohio (24-30, 32-30, 30-32, 30-17, 15-11) in come-from-behind fashion in the consolation match.

"It was an exciting match; it was a great win," Waite said after the victory. "It was good for our team to come from behind like that and start fighting."

During the tournament, Wack extended her NCAA record streak of double-digit digs to 66 matches.

From the AVCA Showcase, Wisconsin will go on to play in the Panther Invitational in Milwaukee and the University of San Diego Invitational before beginning Big Ten play.

While every match is important to the Badgers in trying to win the Big Ten title, they know there are some teams they will have to beat in order to achieve that goal.

Three-time defending Big Ten champion Penn State is one of those teams. The Nittany Lion squad won both meeting with the Badgers last year.

"If we want to be one of the top teams in the Big Ten, we have to beat Penn State," Carlini said.

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