The University of Wisconsin women’s volleyball team aims to extend a seven-game wining streak and remain undefeated in the Big Ten as they take on the Rutgers University Scarlet Knights Wednesday.
The Badgers (12-1, 4-0 Big Ten) travel to New Jersey this week after yet another impressive domination on the road against two solid Big Ten teams in then-No. 14 Purdue University and Indiana University. The comeback 3-2 win over the Boilermakers and clean sweep of the Hoosiers was enough to place UW firmly as the No. 2 team in the country, behind rival University of Minnesota. The win also awarded the Badgers a tie for first place in the Big Ten, sharing the top spot with No. 1 Minnesota and No. 15 Penn State University.
The Scarlet Knights (4-13, 0-4 Big Ten) weigh in at the other end of the spectrum from the thriving Badgers. Rutgers is dead last in the conference standings and fresh off the team’s 12th straight loss. Rutgers has been swept by their last three opponents, and Wisconsin will be the highest ranked opponent the Scarlet Knights have faced this season by a long shot. Despite the mismatch across the board for the Scarlet Knights, no games on the road in the Big Ten are won easily, and the Badgers are coming off yet another long stretch away from home.
The advantages for Wisconsin exist at almost every angle of the upcoming matchup. The Badgers are firing on all cylinders after having to battle back against the Boilermakers and have reiterated that their “game-by-game” approach applies to every team on the schedule. After the then-No. 1 University of Nebraska fell in a stunning 1-3 loss to Ohio State University, the championship discussion reopened for Wisconsin and showed the rest of college volleyball that there is a chink in the Cornhuskers’ armor.
Rutgers will ultimately have to play away from Wisconsin’s strong suit at the net and push the back corners of the court if the Scarlett Knights want to win. This will get the Badgers on their heels and keep the ball away from the powerful combination of All-American setter Lauren Carilini and breakout freshman outside hitter Molly Haggerty. Not many teams outside have been able to do this thus far against Wisconsin this season. The Badgers have only dropped sets to teams ranked inside the top fifteen, sweeping every other one of their other opponents.
Regardless of the matchups on paper, games are settled on the court, and the Big Ten is certainly no exception as the best conference in collegiate volleyball.
Wednesday’s game in New Brunswick starts at 6 p.m. with live coverage from Rutgers’ College Avenue Gym airing on BTN Plus.