The Wisconsin volleyball team (22-6, 18-2 Big Ten) split their final weekend series of the regular season with a loss to Penn State and a win over Rutgers.
However, their resume proved to be enough as the NCAA Tournament selection committee chose the Badgers as the final regional host over bidding programs Nebraska and Pittsburgh.
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The No. 4 Badgers swept Nebraska in both of their meetings this season. The Cornhuskers were given the No. 5 seed, which means they will be in the same region as University of Wisconsin and could meet with a Final Four bid on the line.
Pittsburgh finished the season with just one loss, but the committee valued the Badgers’ strength of schedule — the second-toughest in the country — over the Panthers’ impressive season.
Wisconsin looked to be running away with their matchup against Penn State (24-5, 17-3) Saturday and guaranteeing a Big Ten championship. After winning the first two sets easily, the Badgers seemed to run out of gas as the Nittany Lions stormed back to take the match 3–2.
UW hit .492 in the first two sets against a Penn State defense that holds opponents to .178. That number came back down to earth when the Badgers hit .032 in the final three sets.
Dana Rettke posted 15 kills and 13 blocks, but most of that damage was done in the early goings. Kaitlyn Hord totaled 11 kills on just 17 swings with no errors. The Nittany Lions finished with four players touting double-digit kills.
Penn State tied up the Big Ten with their win as both teams sat at 17-2 entering Saturday. Wisconsin had the luxury of ending their season against Rutgers, while the Nittany Lions dropped their final match to No. 7 Minnesota.
Wisconsin rolled past Rutgers to guarantee their share of the title before watching the Gophers hand PSU a loss.
The Badgers swept the Scarlet Knights 25–14, 25–12, 25–21 as outside hitters Molly Haggerty and Grace Loberg carried the offensive load. The pair had 11 kills each and combined to hit .463.
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Wisconsin also decisively won the service game with 10 service aces to Rutgers’ one.
The Badgers have struggled lately behind the service line after a blazing start with Rettke and freshman Izzy Ashburn on pace to break some UW serving records. Ashburn, with 41 aces, still has a chance to break Lauren Carlini’s record of 45 service aces in a season and currently has a record of 0.43 aces per set.
Wisconsin hosts Illinois State (22-11, 12-6 Missouri Valley Conference) Friday night as the NCAA Tournament opens. A win there will slate the Badgers against the winner of a Notre Dame and UCLA matchup.