The No. 9 Wisconsin volleyball team (4-4) is in unfamiliar territory. In a rare home and home against the No. 10 Washington Huskies (9-1), the Badgers dropped consecutive matches, winning only one of the total seven sets.

This marked the first season the Badgers have not recorded a non-conference home win in over 30 years.

In the first contest at the UW Field House, the Badgers dropped the first two sets by the minimum two points in each. The second set saw the Huskies erase a 24–20 Wisconsin lead and snatch a 27–25 set win. The Badgers responded with an impressive 25–20 win in the third set, but Washington quickly ended the comeback in the fourth set.

The Huskies’ blocking and an array of Wisconsin hitting errors resulted in a .203 hitting percentage — their lowest mark of the season. Redshirt Molly Haggerty’s impressive 19-kill performance came with a cost of 12 hitting errors.

Junior middle blocker Dana Rettke was unable to get going on the offensive with a .278 hitting percentage — her lowest percentage in a loss since her freshman campaign.

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In the away contest against the Huskies, the offensive attack from the Badgers improved slightly, but a poor defensive effort allowed a .457 hitting percentage for Washington. That is the highest hitting percentage given up by the Badgers in Head Coach Kelly Sheffield’s seven-year stretch at Wisconsin.

Rettke recorded the only block of the contest by the Badgers.

Washington strolled to wins in each set without any serious contention from Wisconsin. Washington swept the match 25-20, 25-20, 25-14.

Washington’s Kara Bajema rolled in both matches, finishing with 19 kills in each and only six hitting errors over the weekend.

Perhaps a silver lining in this disappointing weekend is the play from freshman Izzy Ashburn. The backup setter has excelled in back row play and especially from the service line. Her 0.61 aces/set lead the Big Ten as she added four aces this weekend against the Huskies.

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The Badgers find themselves in an unfamiliar situation entering Big Ten play Friday against No. 21 Purdue. The ever-challenging Big Ten is not the place to find your footing as the Badgers play three ranked teams in their next four contests including current No. 4 Penn State and No. 1 Nebraska.

An improved offensive and defensive effort is necessary to realize the Badgers’ National Championship aspirations.