The University of Wisconsin volleyball team opens up Big Ten play this weekend with a two-game stint against No. 19 Ohio State University and the University of Maryland. The No. 3 Badgers (8-1) return to Madison after two weeks of battling on the road.
Wisconsin is fresh off one of its toughest stretches to date. The Badgers rose to the occasion with a 3-0 win at then-No. 16 Texas A&M University Friday, followed by a thrilling 3-2 comeback win at then-No. 2 University of Texas Sunday.
UW finished non-conference play with four wins over ranked opponents and only one loss, which came on the road to a talented University of North Carolina team.
The squad is hoping to secure two early wins in the Big Ten this weekend, but they will have to earn them given this year’s competition across the conference. In this week’s poll, the Big Ten boasts a total of eight teams ranked in the top 25, including all three of the top teams in the country.
The first matchup of the weekend for the Badgers comes against the talented, but inconsistent Buckeyes (10-2) Friday night. Ohio State is traveling to Madison with the intention of extending a four-game winning streak. During this stretch, the Buckeyes have surrendered a grand total of only two sets and swept three of the four games 3-0 in dominant fashion.
OSU has yet to play an away game against a ranked opponent this season, but back-to-back matchups at No. 3 Wisconsin and No. 2 Minnesota to begin conference play will prove an enormous test for the Buckeyes.
The Badgers will close out their weekend in a showdown with the battle-tested Terrapins (8-4) Saturday. Unlike Ohio State, playing top talent on the road will be nothing new for a Maryland team coming off a recent stretch in L.A. where the Terrapins took down a strong Oklahoma team, but were swept by University of Washington and the University of Southern California.
Wisconsin has high expectations to come out of the weekend unblemished, but the Badgers can’t overlook two teams hungry to notch their first marquee win of the season. With a lingering ankle injury to junior outside hitter Lauryn Gillis, freshman outside hitter Molly Haggerty has continued to shine in the starting position.
Having already earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week and Big Ten Player of the Week this season, Haggerty was most recently named American Volleyball Coaches Association National Player of the Week after setting a school-record 27 kills through three sets in the Badgers’ sweep of Texas A&M.
The Terrapins and Buckeyes will have to neutralize Haggerty and company if they want to snag their first win over a ranked opponent this season. Both Friday and Saturday’s game will air at 7 p.m. on BTN Plus.