Wisconsin won its final two non-conference matches against two ranked teams this past weekend.

The No. 6 Badgers swept No. 16 Texas A&M 3-0 on Friday night, and beat the No. 2 Texas Longhorns 3-2 on Sunday afternoon.

Big time road win in College Station

Wisconsin won the first five points of the set with kills from Molly Haggerty and Romana Kriskova. A service error from Lauren Carlini gave Texas A&M its first point of the set. Action was back and forth for both teams. Both the Badgers and the Aggies played their best offense. Wisconsin had 17 kills on the first set, and Texas A&M had 10 kills. The Badgers kept the lead throughout the entire first set, never letting the Aggies come closer than three points. A block from Jazzmin Babers when the Badgers were up 23-16 gave Wisconsin the final momentum needed to finish the set. The Aggies’ Emily Hardesty had a service error, and Wisconsin won the set with a definitive kill by Molly Haggerty, with assistance from Lauren Carlini. The Badgers’ had a great first set, ending with a .438 hitting percentage.

The second set began with Wisconsin trailing 10-5. The Badgers had costly errors from the service line and the net that lead to this deficit. A kill from Tionna Williams and Molly Haggerty led to a momentum change in the second set. The Badgers took the lead at 14-13 after a kill from Romana Kriskova. The Badgers maintained their lead throughout the rest of the second set, ultimately winning the set 25-17. Both the Aggies and the Badgers had 13 kills, but the Badgers had a much higher hitting percentage at .333, compared to the Aggies’ of .125.

Wisconsin clearly had more momentum entering into the third, and final, set of the match. The Aggies entered the third set with fire, keeping the lead from the Badgers for the first 12 points of the set. There were eight ties in the third set, and the Aggies never let Wisconsin gain a big lead. Katelyn Labhart of Texas A&M had two solid assists and one service ace that helped the Aggies stay in the game. Wisconsin’s strong offense and defense proved to be too much for the Aggies. After a kill from Haleigh Nelson and an attack error from Texas A&M’s Kiara McGee, Wisconsin won the set 25-22. Wisconsin had 17 kills and a .209 hitting percentage to help the Badgers take the match.

Hollann Hans of Texas A&M lead her team with 13 kills, followed by Ashlie Reasor with 6. Stephanie Aiple’s 27 assists and Amy Houser’s 11 digs helped the Aggies keep the match close. Wisconsin’s freshman Molly Haggerty led the team with 27 kills.

“That’s some pretty big offensive numbers,” head coach Kelly Sheffield said of Haggerty. “She obviously had some nice swings but she had some swings that weren’t really good hand contact or would just fall down off the block for a kill. She was awfully good offensively and passed almost a 2.5 (out of 3.0) tonight.

Lauren Carlini and Tionna Williams both had 6 blocks, and Kelli Bates had 14 digs. Carlini helped Wisconsin with 40 assists, and Wisconsin ended the game with a .315 average hitting percentage. The Badgers’ defense kept the Aggies’ hitting percentage at .178.

Badgers upset #2 Texas

Wisconsin also beat their second Texan opponent on Sunday afternoon against the No. 2 Texas Longhorns. Texas took the first two sets, but Wisconsin’s resilience pulled through.

Wisconsin lost the first set because of simple errors, especially at the net and from the service line. Texas capitalized on these mistakes and played good offense. The Longhorns won the first set 25-21, with 11 kills and only 4 errors. Wisconsin ended the set with 8 errors.

Wisconsin fired back in the second set. Molly Haggerty had 7 kills on the set. Texas’ Paulina P Cerame retaliated with 5 kills of her own. Wisconsin was losing by five points, and managed to pull within two points of the Longhorns, but the Badgers never took the lead. Wisconsin lost the second set 26-24.

The third set was another hard-fought battle for both teams. Wisconsin took the lead in the first two points of the set, but trailed Texas for most of the third set. The score was close, but Wisconsin didn’t take the lead until the 16-15 score mark. Texas then took the lead again, but the Badgers stayed within two points throughout. Texas’s Cerame killed the ball, setting the score at 23-22 in favor of Texas, but Wisconsin’s Kelli Bates fired back and ultimately changed the momentum of the set. Wisconsin responded with two more kills and won the set 25-23.

Errors from Texas riddled the fourth set. They ended the set with 9 errors. Wisconsin dominated the set from the beginning. Wisconsin had 13 kills on the set, with a .206 hitting percentage. Texas had 12 kills with a .083 hitting percentage. Wisconsin won the set 25-21.

The fifth set followed the third and fourth sets. Texas took the lead in the beginning, but Wisconsin played strong offense and defense to take the lead. Wisconsin won the set 20-18. Texas had 14 kills with a .206 hitting percentage. Wisconsin had 10 kills with a .194 hitting percentage. Errors late in the fifth set caused Texas to lose momentum and ultimately lose the match.

Texas ended the match with 64 total kills, 29 errors, 11 blocks, 64 digs, and a .210 hitting percentage. Micaya White lead the Longhorns with 23 kills, while Chloe Collins assisted her team 55 times. Wisconsin had 63 kills, 26 errors, 15 blocks, 64 digs, and a .220 hitting percentage. Molly Haggerty finished the match with 20 kills, and Lauren Carlini had 54 assists.

“We just showed a lot of fight and we grew from a week ago,” Sheffield said. “That’s what we’re wanting to see, us continuing to want to get better — and you want that to catapult you into Ohio State in about five days.”

With Wisconsin’s domination of No. 16 Texas A&M, and hard-fought win over No. 2 Texas, Wisconsin turns to Big Ten conference play. Wisconsin will face No. 19 Ohio State at home on Friday night, and Maryland comes to visit on Saturday night. Wisconsin finishes non-conference play with a record of 8-1, with five of their opponents being ranked in the top-25 of the country.

Photo: Lee Feinswog, VolleyballMag.com