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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Volleyball: Wisconsin loses match, but wins NCAA attendance record

Large crowd brought energy to rollercoaster of game at Kohl Center
Caroline Crowley

Friday night had the script for a quintessential comeback story. The No. 4 ranked University of Wisconsin volleyball team faced the No. 16 ranked Florida Gators in the Kohl Center.

A crowd of 16,833 set the NCAA regular season record for attendance in a women’s volleyball game. The student section packed the north and south ends of the arena. The noise of the crowd was even more devastating than the rowdy Field House.

Beyond the optics of the game, the actual match was even better. Wisconsin lost the first two sets handily, as Florida controlled every aspect of the game.


“There was a lot of hesitation early in the match,” Head Coach Kelly Sheffield said in a post-game interview. “Typically, hesitation comes from overthinking.”

Down 13-7 in the third set, Wisconsin mounted its comeback. Florida served for match point, up 25-24, but Wisconsin turned the tides and won the third set, finishing with a service ace by senior setter Izzy Ashburn.

Wisconsin then dominated the fourth set, winning 25-13.

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“We started passing,” Sheffield said. “We started running our offense. We started getting some kills. The crowd started getting into it. They missed some serves and we appreciated their gifts.”

But one part of the script was written with an O-Henry twist. Up 8-5 in the fifth and final set, with only seven points to victory, the Badgers collapsed. Amounting seven errors in the final 15 points, the Badgers lost the fifth set, 15-13, losing the match and the Kohl Center Classic.

After the final point, the dejected crowd appeared shocked. The sound of silence pervaded the Kohl Center. The Badgers amassed an incredible comeback after a lackadaisical first two sets. The final score with Florida as the victors was akin to a rom-com movie where nobody falls in love in the end.

Nonetheless, Friday night’s match should still go down as a moral victory for Wisconsin women’s volleyball. Once reaching 109 decibels, the crowd appeared more lively and rowdy than a men’s basketball game.

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Fans, young and old, danced, cheered and screamed for the Badgers, almost willing them to victory. The crowd’s enthusiasm demonstrates the passion and enormous fandom the Badger faithful have for their volleyball team. The theatrics of the match reveal volleyball’s propensity for drama.

“A lot of us on the bench were saying we could literally feel the belief from the student section, especially and the fans and the crowd,” senior middle blocker Danielle Hart said. “It was really special.”

Hart was the star for the Badgers in the match. With a hitting percentage of .263, she had 10 kills and eight blocks. Another standout was Caroline Crawford, who posted a hitting percentage of .444 and career-high 10 blocks. Sarah Franklin and Devyn Robinson had 10 and seven kills, respectively.

Friday night’s match was also part of UW’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the legislation that barred sex discrimination in college sports, among other things. The tremendous spectacle of a sold-out crowd, with two of the top teams in the sport, represents the progress and potential for the future of women’s sports.

But Wisconsin simply had too many errors on Friday night. Amassing a season-high 33 errors on the night, the Badgers’ errors in the fifth set cost them the game. It was an uncharacteristic loss for the Badgers, who are typically one of the most fundamentally sound teams in the nation.

In the end, this match should promote growth in a team that is riddled with turnover and newcomers this season. Sheffield noted that the team’s inexperience with communication and chemistry was definitely exposed but should improve with playing time.

Though the match ended with a loss in the record column, the final score should not dictate the narrative for this game. Rather, the match should represent the incredible popularity of the team and the impact of women’s volleyball on Badger nation.

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