A raucous chorus of “On Wisconsin” echoed through Nationwide Arena Thursday night as the Wisconsin women’s volleyball team punched their ticket to the National Championship game, defeating the Louisville Cardinals three sets to two.
Their win sent shockwaves through the volleyball world, as the Badgers are the first team to beat Louisville all season. The first ranked Cardinals had previously gone undefeated through both regular and postseason play.
The Cardinals also pulled off a first, as their win in the second set was the Badgers’ first set loss of the entire tournament.
Ranked fourth in the nation prior to the match Thursday, Wisconsin was not considered the favorite to win against Louisville. Proving these speculations wrong, the Badgers played with poise and control, hanging with Louisville through five sets of play.
While the team came out hot with a win in the first set 25-23, things quickly turned south as Louisville took the second set with a sizable ten point lead 25-15. Unfazed by the deficit, the Badgers rallied back to win set three 25-21.
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Though an early victory in the fourth set appeared certain for the Badgers, the Cardinals eked out a win 25-23 to force a fifth set. Once the fifth set began, however, the Badgers wasted no time securing a victory, taking the set 15-9 to seal the win.
Freshman Anna Smrek led the team with 20 kills, followed by fifth year Dana Rettke who netted 14. Wisconsin will play Nebraska on Saturday night for the National Championship.