Freshman Ellen Chapman has been a feature cog of the Wisconsin volleyball attack, and this weekend, she put forth one of the finest performances of her young career.
Chapman set a new career-high for kills Sunday, leading the Badgers’ offense with 18 and helping Wisconsin upset No. 6 Penn State in five sets.
Sunday’s strong performance by Chapman was impressive, especially after the freshman struggled mightily against Ohio State Friday, recording six attack errors along with four receiving errors.
“I knew the whole time going into the game [against Penn State] that there were going to be huge blockers in front of me, so I was just working on my shots a lot of the game,” Chapman said. “I just tried to keep the ball in play a lot. I’m not trying to hit it as hard as I can, but just trying to make smarter plays.”
Chapman added 11 kills in a Friday loss to Ohio State, once again leading the Badgers in that stat, giving the freshman 29 for the weekend. Chapman has led the Badgers in kills for nine consecutive matches.
“[Chapman] was one of a number of people who made some nice adjustments, kept their errors down and just stayed aggressive,” head coach Pete Waite said. “I think there were times that stood out when they suddenly thought a little too much and got cautious, but they came back really well with an aggressive play.”
Senior duo leaves mark on Penn State match
Of the two senior members on the Badgers’ roster, one has seen extensive time on the court and the other has not. However, UW’s two captains both enjoyed memorable days on the floor in leading Wisconsin to an upset win over No. 6 Penn State.
In the first set, the non-starting senior for the Badgers, Elle Ohlander, put the team on her back. Ohlander came in and rattled off big play after big play, including a service ace, a kill and two blocks. Ohlander went on to record three kills, two service aces and four blocks for the match.
“Elle has done just a great job working and working and working improving her game and blocking,” Waite said. “She’s positive with everyone all the time and waited for her chance. And she made the most of her chance today, that’s for sure.”
Ohlander confirmed that assessment.
“I just wanted to walk off the court with no regrets,” she said.
Not to be left out, senior starter Janelle Gabrielsen recorded a double-double, as the setter racked up 20 seven assists to lead the Badgers along with 13 digs. Gabrielsen also recorded five blocks and seven kills.
Hickey highlights Badger ‘D’
Annemarie Hickey leads the Big Ten in digs per set for a reason, and it doesn’t seem to matter what competition the libero faces. Hickey, a sophomore, racked up 25 total digs Sunday to help the Badgers upset the Nittany Lions.
Hickey led five Wisconsin players who totaled double-digit digs and also recorded 22 digs Friday against Ohio State, giving her 47 for the weekend.
“We were working really hard in practice,” Hickey said. “We kept saying to ourselves defense was going to win this game. It proved that we had great defense this game because of the high numbers of all our defensive players.”
Hickey and the Badgers defense also faced the best server in the Big Ten Sunday in the Nittany Lions’ Micha Hancock, as the Penn State freshman leads the conference in aces per set. With Hancock sending scalding serves all over the floor, Hickey and the Badgers dug deep to commit only three service errors.
“For her serve, we practiced for it a lot,” Hickey said. “We just knew that we had to get it up at center court just for our setters to set it. I think that was everyone’s mentality. We got aced a few times, but we didn’t let that rattle us.”