The University of Wisconsin volleyball team finally has the opportunity for a full week of practice, before facing Ohio State and Maryland this weekend in the Field House.
Several times over the past few weeks, the Badgers had Wednesday night away matches, which limited practice time. As a young team with lots of learning to do, they sometimes do not have enough time to improve on their mistakes from the previous match.
The No. 8 Badgers will face Ohio State for the first time this season Friday night, and the Badgers will meet the Terrapins for the second time this season Saturday night.
Ohio State is led by junior setter Taylor Hughes. Hughes is an aggressive lefty who is not afraid to take a swing at the ball and take the offense into her own hands when she sees an opportunity. Wisconsin’s middles, Tionna Williams and Dana Rettke will have to pay attention to Hughes, beneffiting the Buckeyes. With Wisconsin’s middles focusing on Hughes, their hitters will have a gap in the block, providing more space for kills.
Ohio State is led in kills by Luisa Schirmer. She adds 3.09 kills per set and is one of her teams better with servers, averaging .20 aces per set. Ohio State averages 15.06 digs per set, which is the fourth highest in the conference. This means Wisconsin will have to work for their points and try to wear out the Ohio State defense by extending rallies.
The Badgers have already defeated Maryland this season, when they won in a three-set sweep in College Park. Last week, the Terrapins pulled an upset win over then No.17 Purdue, a testament to hard work and top recruits. Maryland had a top 20 recruiting class in the nation last year and secured a top 10 recruiting class this year.
Maryland is ranked fourth in the conference in number of aces per set, boasting an average of 1.40. They are led by freshman Erika Pritchard in this category. The Badgers are most successful when they are able to get their middles involved in the game, but to do this, they will need to pass well off of tough Maryland serves.
Both Maryland and Ohio State are tied for eighth in the Big Ten conference, while the Badgers sit at sixth with a conference record of 6-6. Despite only having a.500 record, the Badgers are still the eighth-ranked team overall in the country. This is a testament to the competitiveness of the Big Ten and the Badgers having the second most difficult schedule in collegiate volleyball. The Badgers are aiming to pick up two home wins this weekend before going on the road for four consecutive matches.
The games will begin at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday evening at the UW Field House and will be available to stream on BTN Plus and 100.9 FM.