Riding high amid an eight-game winning streak, the Wisconsin volleyball team can seemingly do nothing wrong.
In a week that saw them sweep two Big Ten foes, extending their set winning streak to 17, three Badgers were awarded with Player of the Week honors.
Sophomore Kelli Bates was named the Co-Player of the Week, junior Lauren Carlini was honored as the Setter of the Week and Tionna Williams was named Freshman of the Week.
Head coach Kelly Sheffield reflected on the team’s successful week at his news conference Monday.
“I think we had a pretty good week, individually, with some players,” Sheffield said. “I thought Kelli Bates had a monster week and I think her hard work is starting to pay off and show a little bit in her all-around game. Her and Taylor Morey have really been working hard at their ball control. They’ve been coming in early in the mornings, and I don’t think there was any coincidence that our last four matches have probably been our best passing matches of the season.”
No. 11 Wisconsin (20-6, 12-4 Big Ten) is peaking at the right time and will look to push its unbeaten streak to nine as they travel to Champaign to take on No. 16 Illinois (18-9, 9-7).
The Badgers and Fighting Illini faced off earlier this year, with Wisconsin winning 3-1 to secure its first Big Ten victory Sept. 30.
That match saw junior Romana Kriskova break out and lead the team with 15 kills, and the Badgers could use another solid performance from her as she has fallen under the radar in recent weeks.
“I’m not worried about [Kriskova],” Sheffield said. “She hasn’t put up great numbers in the past few matches, but truthfully some of that might have to do with the coaches rather than her. I think when we get right down to it she is going to be somebody we will be able to count on.”
The Badgers know they have a major opportunity in front of them this week as they play against two top-20 teams that they may face deep in the NCAA tournament. The opportunity to make a lasting impression on the selection committee is not lost on the team.
“We’re excited about this week,” Sheffield said. “We’ve got two teams that are not just top-20 teams, but they’re two teams that you could be facing that second weekend of the NCAA Tournament, if we’re fortunate to still be playing, caliber of teams that you could be squared off against to try to make a run to the Final Four.”
The Badgers take on the Fighting Illini 8 p.m. Wednesday and the match will be televised on the Big Ten Network.