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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Volleyball: Texas eliminates Wisconsin in Final Four behind service, defensive play

Skinner, Halter lead Longhorns’ attack against Badgers
Soren Goldsmith

Four teams embarked on a journey to Tampa, Florida, to compete in the NCAA Women’s Volleyball Final Four over the course of the latter half of the week. Thursday night, the semifinals took place in a packed Amalie Arena.

The University of Nebraska took care of business as the No. 1 overall seed to begin the evening — downing the University of Pittsburgh in a 3–0 sweep.

In the night cap, the University of Wisconsin battled against the University of Texas, the lone No. 2 seed remaining in the bracket. Each team — in front of a record indoor crowd of 19,598 people — featured multiple American Volleyball Coaches Association All-Americans on their roster.


A spot in the national championship was up for grabs, and the Longhorns took control early on in the match. Throughout the beginning of set one, both teams traded points for the most part and eventually found themselves locked in an 11–11 tie.

The service of Texas’ outside hitter Madisen Skinner created a spark in the first set. The Longhorns rattled off five straight points to build a lead before the rally was ended by a Skinner service error.

From there, UW was able to generate a little momentum toward the end of the set with the help of kills from outside hitters Sarah Franklin and Anna Smrek. Unfortunately for the Badgers, the Longhorns pulled away to win set one 25–22.

UW hit their stride in the second set after finishing the first set strong — using their noteworthy block that has been on display all season to make Texas uncomfortable. Middle blocker CC Crawford tallied a couple of blocks in the set, as she finished the game with a team-high seven.

Outside hitters Devyn Robinson and Temi Thomas-Ailara racked up multiple kills in the set — guiding the Badgers to a 25–20 victory to tie the match at one apiece.

Volleyball: Wisconsin avenges regular season loss to Penn State, downs Nittany Lions in four sets

In a game that featured many runs on both ends, Texas caught fire on the offensive side of the ball and never looked back. The Longhorns went on to outscore UW 50–29 in the final two sets of action.

Texas’ service strategy proved to be the difference-maker in Thursday night’s action. Powerful, aggressive serves forced awkward and untimely passes from the Badgers — putting the Longhorns in control.

Defensively, Texas responded to strong swings from Thomas-Ailara, Smrek and others with the help of 19 digs from libero Emma Halter. The Longhorns made it difficult for UW to get clean looks – exposing a passing game that had gone through some troubles throughout the season.

Texas finished with 11 service aces on the night to UW’s four. Skinner led the team with six of her own, in addition to her 18 kills. The Badgers did not have a response, as the Longhorns’ lead ballooned to 21–8 in set three. They went on to take set three with a final score of 25–13.

Set four was more of the same for UW, who could not quite get into a rhythm on the offensive end. It was Skinner again who set the tone early on — earning help from freshman setter Ella Swindle and First-Team All-American outside hitter Asjia O’Neal.

The Longhorns once again pulled away in set four to eventually advance to the national championship — winning 3–1 after a 25–16 set four victory. The Badgers — despite accumulating 13 kills apiece from Franklin and Smrek — could not overcome the service pressure and defense of Texas.

Head coach Kelly Sheffield and UW finished with an impressive 30-4 record to end their year, along with a Final Four appearance. It marked Sheffield’s fifth appearance in the final weekend of action in just 11 years.

The Badgers rattled off playoff wins against Jackson State University, the University of Miami Florida, Penn State University and the University of Oregon to punch their ticket to Tampa. They finished the year undefeated at the UW Field House as well.

As for Texas, they will look to repeat as national champions for the second straight season when they take on the Cornhuskers at 2 p.m. Sunday. The game will be nationally televised on ABC.

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