When asked how to rebound from back-to-back losses against Washington, Dana Rettke responded with the word “defense.” The Badgers backed Rettke’s claim with an impressive defensive performance, leading to wins against Purdue and Indiana over the weekend.
The Wisconsin volleyball team (6-4, 2-0 Big Ten) needed that improved defense with the first two sets being decided by a combined five points. In the final set, the Badgers trounced the Purdue Boilermakers (8-3, 0-2) with a 25–15 set win.
Rettke may have preached defense to her team, but her efficient offense is what ultimately carried the team to victory — she finished with 12 kills at a .476 hitting percentage and added an ace for good measure.
The 6-foot-8 middle blocker also followed through at the defensive end with a game-high five blocks.
Early in the first set, junior setter Sydney Hilley suffered a bloody nose which forced freshman Izzy Ashburn to play early. Ashburn recorded six assists before Hilley returned later in the set.
Junior outside hitter Caitlyn Newton led the way for the Boilermakers with 13 kills, but also tallied seven hitting errors against the stout Badger defense.
That Badger defense shut down Purdue’s consistent threat Grace Cleveland by holding her to six kills at a .037 hitting percentage.
Wisconsin followed up their domination of Purdue with a 3–1 victory over the Indiana Hoosiers (11-4, 0-2).
Outside hitter Molly Haggerty terrorized the Hoosier defense with a season-high 20 kills at a .327 hitting percentage. Rettke and junior Grace Loberg combined for 30 kills that night.
Wisconsin’s heavy offensive attack combined with their 12 aces from the service line led to some lopsided set wins including a 25–15 fourth set victory.
Freshman serving sensation Izzy Ashburn poured on five aces along with multiple lengthy serving runs. Her 0.63 aces per set continue to lead the Big Ten with a sizable lead between Ashburn and the second-highest mark.
The Badgers thwarted Indiana sophomore Breana Edwards, limiting the Hoosiers’ top hitter to just six kills on 39 swings. Redshirt senior Kendall Beerman was the only Hoosier to reach double-digit kills with 11.
These wins could serve to settle the Badgers’ nerves following some rocky non-conference performances. But the Badgers next two contests are against No. 5 Penn State and No. 2 Nebraska, so they can’t afford to relax quite yet.
In fact, when it comes to Big Ten volleyball, you can never afford to relax.