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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


UW volleyball to host Big Ten newcomers this weekend


Coming off of two road game wins against Northwestern and Illinois, the Wisconsin volleyball team returns to the UW Field House this weekend to take on the two new editions to the Big Ten: Rutgers and Maryland.

The No. 6 Badgers (12-2, 3-1 Big Ten) are riding a three-match conference win streak with the wins over Northwestern and Illinois, added with a win over Ohio State two weekends ago. Wisconsin has not won four conference matches in a row since 2008. UW will look to match their conference win streak from 2008 this weekend as they face the Scarlet Knights and the Terrapins.

Opposing the triumphant weekend that Wisconsin experienced on the road, Rutgers (7-10, 0-4 Big Ten) inherited two losses to both Purdue and Indiana at home. Not only was the loss to Indiana the Scarlet Knights’ fourth loss in a row, but it was already their fourth loss in conference play.


Maryland (7-8, 0-4 Big Ten) presents a similar case, as they have also lost all four of their Big Ten matches so far this season. The last loss to Purdue gave the Terrapins a seven-match losing streak.

Although Maryland has faltered as of late, Wisconsin head coach Kelly Sheffield expressed his interest in keeping a watchful eye for the Terrapins at the net.

We’ve seen Maryland play a couple times,” Sheffield said. “They’re very athletic. They’re talented, especially in the middles. There’s talent there, so we’re going to have our hands full with that.”

Maryland’s fierce middle blocker, freshman Hailey Murray, currently ranks third for total kills on her team (104) and has the highest kill percentage with a .284 mark. She also leads the team with 60 blocks this season.

Wisconsin’s setter, sophomore Lauren Carlini, says that in order to take on these two teams, the Badgers have concentrated on the nitty-gritty details during rallies.

“One thing we’re really focusing on is our part of the game and just being able to excel at the little things and be consistent all the way throughout matches,” Carlini said.

According to Sheffield, one of the key areas he has been working on with his team this week is consistent and accurate ball handling on first contact.

“We want to be a team that dominates the first contact,” Sheffield said. “So we’re trying to be better with our serve and pass game.”

The Badgers have also practiced making the most out of a bad first contact and turning any type of pass into a positive play – even if they are not able to set up their offense.

“We’re trying to be a better ‘out-of-system’ team,” Sheffield said. “When we don’t have the pass that we are still being able to get a good swing on that and be able to score.”

Improvement on this aspect of Wisconsin’s game has the potential to quicken its offense. The keys for a successful rally lie with communicating on the court, being aggressive and never letting up until the play is over.

“All of us are trying to work really hard on our communication,” senior defensive specialist Deme Morales said. “We’re working on embracing each other and bouncing back to adversity and being extremely resilient. When we’ve been punched, we punch back.”

The 2013 NCAA Championship All-Tournament honoree also mentioned her anticipation for being back on Wisconsin’s home court, surrounded by Badger fans.

“I think our crowd is going to help us a lot too. I don’t know if Maryland or Rutgers are used to this type of crowd yet,” Morales said.

Playing at home has the potential to contribute to the Badgers’ performance this weekend. Ever since the season began, Wisconsin has played in front of enormous crowds. This includes selling out the Field House during the Wisconsin’s first Big Ten game of the season against Penn State Sept. 24.

“We’ve been close to filling the Field House almost every night,” Sheffield said, “And so I think we’ve created one of the best home court environments in the country. It’s a difficult place to come in and play.”

Wisconsin will welcome Rutgers to the Big Ten Friday at 7 p.m. before closing out the weekend against Maryland at 1 p.m.

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