On the second night of back-to-back matches to open up the NCAA Tournament, No. 6 Wisconsin (26-6) blew by Iowa State (19-11) in what should be their last “easy” match of the post season.
After a hard fought Round One win over Oregon, the Badgers returned to the Field House Friday night and swept the visiting Cyclones to continue their 14-match winning streak.
The Badgers used a balanced attack that caused problems for the Iowa State defense and saw five different players tally seven or more kills. Freshman Tionna Williams led the team with nine kills, with only one attack error, and outside hitters Kelli Bates and Romana Kriskova had eight kills a piece.
Williams noted that the electric atmosphere inside the Field House propelled her to play harder throughout the match.
“The last two matches have been insane,” Williams said. “The intensity in the gym and coming from our crowd and the team itself has been crazy. Just being able to play for this school in this kind of environment is a blessing every time we step out into the court. We make the most of it every single time.”
Wisconsin also had a solid night defensively as five different players recorded blocks and senior Taylor Morey led both teams with 17 digs.
Morey, Wisconsin’s lone senior, spoke about the emotion she had in playing her last home match.
“Honestly our crowd is amazing,” Morey said. “The last two nights it has been roaring in there. It’s almost like when we come out into the NCAA tournament it’s a new time. It’s postseason, we amp up our energy and our crowd came with us. It’s awesome to be on a team where we step on the court and our crowd is 100 percent behind us.”
After finishing the weekend winning six of seven sets, Wisconsin advanced to the Sweet 16 for the third consecutive season.
Head coach Kelly Sheffield was able to reflect on how this team compares to his other Badger squads heading into the second weekend of the tournament.
“I think all three teams when we’ve gotten to post season have been playing their best volleyball this [time of the] season,” Sheffield said. “I think that’s something they’ve all got in coming. They’ve all taken their own separate paths to get to this point, but I think that we got a team that emblazoned themselves, that’s approaching practices the right way … I think it’s going to take an effort, somebody playing well to beat us and that’s where you want to be. ”
Wisconsin must now leave the friendly confines of the Field House and travel to Austin, Texas, for its Sweet 16 matchup against No. 11 Florida.