Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Volleyball: Shooting stars open room for new talent: Wisconsin volleyball’s new dynamic

What new players have to offer as old players depart
Abby Cima
Women’s Volleyball Game vs. Michigan-Big 10 Champs

A City of Champions is a classification bestowed upon the understanding of consistent success and repeat victory on the biggest stage. In that respect, Madison and the Wisconsin women’s volleyball team are at the top of the mountain. The downfall of this lofty standing is that from the top, you have the farthest distance to fall, and this year’s Badgers are without last season’s strongest tethers.

With these all-league talents entering the stratosphere of professional volleyball and sports, Kelly Sheffield’s group has had to re-identify its dynamic. After several season games, the Badgers have begun to show their new core.

New faces have come onto the court to replace previous players like Danna Rettke and Grace Loberg. Coming from both off the bench and other states as well as overseas, new players have begun to hold up the weight of the season. On a team that has sat at the top of the NCAA Women’s Volleyball world, these players have flown relatively under the radar.


With players Coach Sheffield has called unique talents in our game as well as elite European resumes, these players are far from new to the spotlight. Are you, the average reader of a small college newspaper, the first to know about their talent? The answer is no, but the moment you step into the University of Wisconsin Field House, you will quickly learn their names.

In 2021, the Badgers were a steamroller powered by a diesel engine comprised heavily of senior talent. A front row comprised of Rettke and Loberg highlighted an incredibly talented team.

But coming into this season, the Badgers’ killer front row is gone. Rettke has ascended to the ranks of professional playing for Vero Volley Manza. Additionally, Loberg has continued a presence in the UW Field House working as a commentator for the Big Ten Network. A powerful championship team seems to be without its gas, but as the season progresses, this will be proven wrong. 

Volleyball: Checking in with the defending national champs after four games


Izzy Ashburn: 

Ashburn is far from a newcomer to Badger success as she enters her senior season. Ashburn, a Minnesota native and business analytics student, holds the UW service ace percentage in a career record, averaging 0.41 a set.

This season she has stepped up from off the bench to become an immediate and high-level contributor to Sheffield and Company’s quest for a second consecutive championship. Named a tri-team captain, Ashburn has been a powerful piece in the back row, leading the team in assists and service aces with 95 and seven, respectively.

Football: Game preview, week two against Washington State


Sarah Franklin: 

Where Ashburn participated in the UW Field House ring ceremony, Franklin joined the Badgers after two seasons in East Lansing, where she was named First-Team All-Big Ten. With the loss of the pure unhinged dominance Dana Rettke wielded on the front line, the Badgers needed someone to come in and get kills.

Franklin has made an impact right away, notching 62 kills through four games, a mark that leads the team healthily. Franklin adds even more power to a team with an elite kill percentage.

Football: Badger stars shine in Wisconsin’s opening game

Gulce Guctekin:

It is not often that a freshman gets much playing time on any team, let alone a defending National Championship team. As a five-year member of the Turkish national team, it is little surprise that Guctekin breaks the mold. Guctekin is tasked with service and defense in her spot as a libero, a role that has garnered her success and validation in Europe for years.

Guctekin’s transition to NCAA play has done nothing but inflate her numbers as she leads the team with 52 digs. While Guctekin is part of a team heavy with juniors and seniors, she shows that the Badgers’ success will remain in the Field House for years to come.

While the Badgers have never had difficulty finding it, winning requires talent. For the average fan, questions may remain as the defending champs look to solidify themselves at the top of the mountain. The answer to these doubts lies in the new core and their powerful early statement.

Whether it is the defensive play of Ashburn and Guctekin or the offensive dominance already displayed by Franklin, these players are hitting the ground running. The Badgers are still early in the season, and with a hard conference schedule quickly approaching, they will need a team effort.

The momentum of last season is a preclusion engine that has fired players and teams alike into the highest levels of the volleyball world. As the Badgers continue to rise, the question remains — does their new talent have enough fuel to keep the ship from plummeting to the earth? Only time will tell, but we know stars are beginning to shine through the windows of UW Field House. 

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