The University of Wisconsin volleyball team scheduled three high-quality opponents for their spring schedule — dropping only one set in the three matches combined.
Each of the three teams — Green Bay, Marquette and Purdue — made the NCAA Tournament last December and posed major threats to the maturing Badgers this spring.
But Wisconsin rolled through their opponents this spring season, including their most recent win over the Purdue Boilermakers.
The Badgers swept the Boilermakers in straight sets and snagged another set win in a bonus fourth set.
Redshirt junior Molly Haggerty once again led the team with 13 kills along with 10 digs.
Wisconsin has won nine of the last 10 regular season matchups against the Boilermakers and didn’t blink in their return to West Lafayette.
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Sophomore Danielle Hart and senior Madison Duello also added double-figure kills. Hart’s performance all but sealed her a starting spot next fall.
With the departure of Tionna Williams at middle blocker, Hart seems to be Williams’ successor. She played in 21 matches last season, giving her the experience that her fellow teammates lack.
This performance against Purdue combined with her stellar showing against Marquette might make Head Coach Kelly Sheffield’s job much easier in the decision process. Hart hit .431 throughout the three matches.
The Badgers hit a .295 clip as a team, but their defense won the match.
The Boilermakers managed only 33 kills at a .056 hitting percentage. The Badger defense out-blocked Purdue 9-3 and dug out 24 more attacks than the Boilermakers. Throughout the spring, Wisconsin has held its opponents to a staggering .063 hitting percentage.
For perspective, No. 4 Brigham Young University recorded the lowest opponent hitting percentage in the NCAA last season with a .143. Wisconsin ranked 50th in the nation last season with a .173 opponent hitting percentage.
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An improved defense coupled with the offensive All-American duo of setter Sydney Hilley and middle blocker Dana Rettke could spell success for the Badgers come fall.
Rettke recorded 24 kills this spring at a 564 hitting percentage.
The Badgers start practice for their 12-day European tour May 20. The team will then leave June 5 for the trip to gain valuable experience playing against professional teams across Europe.
This tour gives an already experienced roster even more time to gel on and off the court.
Coming up one win shy of the NCAA Tournament Final Four last season, the Badgers have plenty motivational firepower to be successful come fall.