The undefeated University of Wisconsin volleyball team (7-0) will look to extend their winning streak this weekend as their non-conference schedule comes to a close with the Badger Classic.
The number five Badgers have yet to drop a set and will take on two Golden Eagles this weekend — instate rival Marquette Thursday night and Southern Mississippi Saturday night.
The Badgers have presented stellar offense this season. Freshman setter Sydney Hilley boasts 12.71 assists per set and will look to continue to connect with her hitters this weekend. Her main target this season has been fellow freshman Dana Rettke.
Rettke, a 6-foot-8 middle blocker, leads the team in both kills and hitting percentage. She’s averaging 3.86 kills per set, and teams are having a difficult time slowing her down because of her size and athleticism. She has proved herself to be the Badgers go-to player for a much needed point, and she’s still growing as a player.
Coach Kelly Sheffield spoke about his team’s need to improve on defense both at the net and in the back court. Last weekend in the HotelRED invitational, Rettke’s counterpart, junior middle blocker Tionna Williams, totaled 17 blocks in six sets, earning Big Ten defensive player of the week. This weekend, Wisconsin will need to continue to create positive touches with their blocks so their back court can play the ball.
The match against instate rivalry Marquette will certainly be intense. Marquette (5-4) has already played four teams ranked in the top 25 this season, and took down No. 20 Hawaii in a five set thriller for their season opening. Expect these early season battles to have helped prepare the Golden Eagles to take on the Badgers.
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The Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles (8-4) have already played several matches that have gone to five sets. In these matches they are currently 1-2, falling to the University of Miami and South Alabama. Even in their losses, they have managed to steal sets from teams in the Power Five conferences. They will need to rely on scrappy play in order to have a chance of stealing a set or two from the Badgers.
The Badgers face two talented teams in the FieldHouse this weekend. The Badger Classic wraps up their non-conference season, and after this weekend, they will play some of the best teams in the country as they enter the Big Ten season.