Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Full team effort gets monkey off back

The monkey is finally off the back of the Wisconsin volleyball team, as the Badgers (12-7, 1-7) were able to obtain their first Big Ten win since last October.

It had been nearly a full year – 352 days to be exact – since the Badgers last tasted conference victory over Michigan October 30, 2009.

Spirits were high in the post-game press conference; with head coach Pete Waite joking the crowd should have stormed the court like the football student section did Saturday evening.


Fans stayed in their seats, but the team was serenaded with thunderous applause from the unusually loud 3,348 in attendance.

The opening set was tight until the Boilermakers opened up a four-point lead late. Trailing 16-20, Wisconsin called a timeout, and never looked back.

“In the first set we were down 16-20 and in [the] timeout we talked about making a comeback and grabbing the momentum,” Waite said. “That was huge, giving us hope to do it again. Better yet, let’s get the lead and not play from behind, and that’s what we did.”

The timeout ignited a 9-2 run to end the first set, and gave the Badgers a much-needed boost moving forward into the match.

During the run, the Badgers were aided by four straight Purdue hitting errors, but also avoided many of those same mistakes that plagued them in the past.

“We were maybe making some of the same defensive plays [as before], but on Friday night, we would make a hitting error and give it away. That kills your energy,” senior outside hitter Allison Wack said. “Tonight, for the most part, we stayed within ourselves, and we didn’t give Purdue a lot of [easy] points. Just keep rolling and do what you’re doing.”

Wisconsin proved it could also play with a lead in the third and fourth sets. In the match-clinching fourth, the team closed out the set on another 9-2 run, this one after narrowly leading 16-14.

Coming up again huge for the Badgers were two freshmen outside hitters, Elise Walch and Norwegian native Julie Mikaelsen.

Mikaelsen, who has been primarily coming off the bench in recent matches, provided a huge spark, leading the team with a set-high five kills.

Waite denied relegating Mikaelsen to the volleyball equivalent of a “sixth-man” in basketball, citing Mary Ording’s strong play in practice as the main culprit in reducing the freshman’s role.

“Mary’s been doing really well; she deserved to be in there. But for this match, [Ording] came in and was making some errors, and her game just wasn’t on,” Waite said. “Mikaelsen was ready to go. Obviously she had started for us before, and she is always eager to be in there. I think that made a big difference, it kinda sparked us.”

Mikaelsen, who is a natural lefty, was given an extra advantage because the blockers had to adjust to her hitting from a different angle.

“Being a lefty there makes a difference, it’s harder to stop,” Waite said.

Mikaelsen said her mentality did not change when she was benched, joking that she always provides a spark, starting or otherwise.

Walch also provided a huge boost, accumulating a match-high 14 kills with an impressive .370 hitting percentage.

Scrappy play, freshman hitters, and timely runs pushed the Badgers towards the victory. But when it came to crunch-time, the team relied upon their two senior leaders, Wack and libero Kim Kumza, for guidance.

Wack racked up four kills in the final frame, and Kumza ignited the crowd with several jaw-dropping digs.

The team hopes to use this victory as momentum moving forward deeper into conference play.

“Momentum’s always huge; I just think we were just playing well,” Kumza said. “We were having fun out there. When we’re having fun, we play well; when we play well, we’re having fun.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Badger Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Badger Herald

Comments (0)

All The Badger Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *