The University of Wisconsin women’s volleyball team just got their season underway following the Big Ten/ACC Challenge against Florida State and North Carolina this past weekend.
While the Badgers fell in the Elite Eight in last season’s NCAA Tournament, they head into this season with high expectations and a No. 5 ranking in the preseason American Volleyball Coaches Association poll. The ranking marks their fifth straight season with a ranking in the top 10, and their highest ranking since 2016.
Led by junior Dana Rettke — who earned All-American honors in both of her first two seasons with Madison — the Badgers will look to make a push further into the NCAA Tournament this year.
Rettke’s absolute domination of all competition through this point in her career makes her look all but unstoppable heading into her junior year.
Her season stats last year included nearly four kills/set and nearly five points/set, both of which led the team. Rettke’s season highs last season included 30 kills and 32 points against Minnesota on Halloween, a match in which she obliterated Minnesota offensively.
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The U.S. National Team also gave Rettke the opportunity to train with them this summer, as she competed in five FIVB matches, playing with some of the best volleyball players in the country and the world.
With the FIVB team, Rettke also had the chance to play with former standout Badger Lauren Carlini. The two Badger stars, as well as the rest of the team, will look to earn a spot in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
“When a player has that type of opportunity and experience, they can go one of two ways — they can become complacent or they can lead with their work ethic and composure,” said head coach Kelly Sheffield. “We just need Dana to be the best player she’s capable of being — no more, no less.”
Rettke’s offensive and defensive will be supported by redshirt senior Madison Duello and redshirt junior Molly Haggerty.
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The trio of Rettke, Duello and Haggerty proved to be lethal last season, as the Badgers managed to finish 25-7, including 15-5 against an extremely strong Big Ten conference that has five teams in the top 10 and seven teams in the top 20 in the preseason AVCA poll.
Duello earned third-team All-American honors last season, averaging 3.25 kills and nearly three points/set, both good enough for second on the team.
Duello’s farewell season will have her looking to set new career-highs after setting several new ones last season, including 24 kills and 43 attacks against Penn State in November.
Haggerty averaged over two kills and nearly three points/set last season, both good enough for fourth on the team.
After a freshman season in 2016 in which she earned third-team All-American honors, Haggerty’s role regressed with the addition of Rettke. She still managed to tie her career-high in assists as she continued to play a supporting role for the team.
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This trio, combined with a crop of players who have all matured by a year, will look to improve on last season’s results and make a deeper run in the NCAA Tournament. The team only lost one major player in Tionna Williams, meaning much of their core remains.
The Badgers have a tough season ahead of them, as they will face eight teams ranked in the preseason top 25, including all six ranked Big Ten teams as well as No. 13 Washington and No. 20 Baylor.
The Badgers’ first home game will be Thursday against Marquette at the UW Field House. Big Ten play will open Sept. 27 when the Badgers take on Purdue at the UW Field House.