The Wisconsin volleyball team is coming off a heart-breaking loss to No. 10 Minnesota Wednesday. The Badgers lost in three sets to the Gophers, nearly coming back to win the third set, only to fall 28-26. Wisconsin was out-blocked for only the fourth time this season, something Badgers’ coach Pete Waite said his team needs to focus on.
“Part of it has to do with Minnesota’s attackers,” Waite said. “There’s some real talent there as far as the players’ ability to avoid the block. That total did surprise me that we were that low, but I would base it more on not what we were necessarily doing wrong but what they were doing really well.”
Wisconsin (15-7, 3-6) returns to action Friday as the Indiana Hoosiers (9-12, 1-8) come to town. The Hoosiers won their first conference game earlier this week with an impressive 3-1 win at Purdue. Indiana ranks in the lower half in most conference statistics besides ranking fifth in service aces.
Junior outside hitter Jordan Haverly leads the Hoosiers. Haverly leads the team in kills per set with 3.89. She also is second on the team in digs per set at 2.37. Junior Caitlin Hansen leads the Hoosiers with 3.43 digs per set, and senior middle blocker Samantha Thrower leads the team in blocks per set with 1.27.
Indiana has been switching between two setters, something Waite said can make preparation for them challenging.
“They’re a team going back and forth between two different setters, so you don’t know what style they’re going to have out there,” Waite said. “But they certainly proved themselves against Purdue earlier this week and beat a very high-ranked team in their own gym.”
The Badgers beat Indiana in their only meeting last year by a score of 3-1. That match was played at Indiana. This came after a 2010 season in which the Hoosiers dominated the Badgers, beating them 3-0 in both Indiana and Madison.
Junior outside hitter Julie Mikaelsen said the Badgers need to be more focused going into Friday’s match.
“We need to focus on blocking and defense,” Mikaelsen said. “We need to keep our intensity up. We need to keep up our good play. We tend to have streaks where we play really well, then stop and then go again, so we need to keep the high level of play.”
The match Friday also has a little more meaning to it than a normal Big Ten match would. The game will be played for breast cancer awareness, as October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The Badgers will honor former player and coach Margie Fitzpatrick Friday; she lost her battle with breast cancer in 2004. Fitzpatrick was a four-year letter winner for the Badgers and ranks near the top in almost every statistical category in Wisconsin history. She returned to the Badgers in 1990 as a coach, helping guide the Badgers to their first Big Ten title and NCAA Tournamnet appearance under head coach Steve Lowe. Waite said the impact Fitzpatrick has had on the program is enormous.
“I saw her go through a terrible time with that [breast cancer],” Waite said. “I remember her all the time and carry something with me just remembering what she gave all of us and this program. But there are so many people who are affected by breast cancer. Everybody on our team knows somebody who has gone through it, so we all want to support the cause as much as we can.”
For Badgers’ senior Mary Ording, breast cancer has especially affected her life.
“It definitely hits home right now in my family,” Ording said. “Breast cancer runs in my family and I’ve got family dealing with it right now. So this match really hits home and keeps you focused on what’s really important in life.”