With the Wisconsin Badger volleyball team off to a quick 2-0 start to the Big Ten season, they face a tough road trip ahead.
The Big Ten contains five teams in the top nine of the NCAA volleyball rankings. First from that five, as well as on the road trip, will be the Minnesota Gophers.
The Gophers (8-2) have yet to drop a single set at home this season. Traveling to the Maturi Pavilion in Minneapolis will be the first challenge for the Badgers (9-1). Minnesota recently hosted No. 9 Penn State and defended the home territory, winning without dropping a set. So far, their only losses come from ranked opponents, No. 2 Stanford and No. 14 Oregon.
Volleyball: Badgers win joust at Field House versus RutgersUniversity of Wisconsin volleyball steamrolled the Rutgers Scarlet Knights Saturday afternoon. The Badgers improved to 9–1 on the season and Read…
Other challenges that the Gophers will throw at Wisconsin include sophomore outside hitter, Stephanie Samedy. Samedy leads the Gophers in kills this season, with the next best hitter still over 30 kills behind her. Standing at 6’2″, Samedy led the team with 14 kills when they upset then No. 4 Penn State.
Redshirt junior Taylor Morgan will be another large presence on the court. Although standing only six feet tall, Morgan leads the Gophers in blocks. She will try to match up against the Big Ten’s leading blocker in the Badgers’ Dana Rettke.
From the Badgers’ perspective, the team is looking at Minnesota and only Minnesota. Although Wisconsin takes on No. 16 Purdue and No. 8 Illinois directly after the Gophers, setter Sydney Hilley says the focus is, “always the next one. We don’t look past the next one.”
Wisconsin will also have to continue to adjust to the change in the starting lineup with Grace Loberg still out indefinitely with a foot/ankle injury. Danielle Hart got the start in her place against Rutgers and put up impressive numbers, tying for the team-high in kills with 11. She will look to build on that game to help propel the Badgers past Minnesota.
Going into a strenuous road trip, coach Kelly Sheffield also commented on his approach to the upcoming Minnesota game.
“We try to get a little bit better every day,” Sheffield said. “There isn’t big stuff. What are the little things we can get better at? Probably every element of the game.”
Sheffield’s Badgers want to prepare themselves for anything and everything that could be thrown their way. Hart said, “anytime [they] go out there, it’s about working out those tweaks.”
With an upcoming battle against one of the best offenses in the Big Ten and a defense similar to their own, the Badgers know that taking down Minnesota will not be an easy task. Both teams are looking to start the Big Ten season off 3-0 and carry momentum with them into the rest of the season. The match will be at 8 p.m. on Wednesday and will be featured on the Big Ten Network from the Maturi Pavilion in Minneapolis.