The No. 3 Wisconsin Badgers traveled to the state of Illinois this weekend and beat Illinois and Northwestern.
Wisconsin dominated Illinois on Friday night.
Wisconsin took the lead quickly in the first set and Illinois was unable to catch up to the Badgers. Wisconsin shut down the Illinois offense, only allowing four kills. Illinois hit at a negative .029 hitting percentage. Wisconsin remained solid on offense. The Badgers had 17 kills at .314 percent. Wisconsin won the set 25-17 on a kill from Wisconsin’s Lauryn Gillis.
The Badgers took a 5-0 lead to start out the second set. Illinois managed to stay within two or three points in the middle of the set, but errors from Illinois ultimately cost the Illini the set. Wisconsin won the set 25-18 on a block from Romana Kriskova and Haleigh Nelson. Illinois had nine errors. The Illini’s hitting percentage improved to .027. Wisconsin had an uncharacteristic rough hitting percentage at .150, but Wisconsin managed to keep its lead.
Once again, Wisconsin took a solid lead in the third set. The Badgers led 20-16 when the Illini went on a 3-0 run to trail Wisconsin by one. Wisconsin went on a 4-0 run when Wisconsin’s Lauren Carlini had a service error. Illinois’s Beth Prince had a kill to bring the score to 24-21 Wisconsin. However, Wisconsin won the set from a kill from Haleigh Nelson. Wisconsin won 25-21.
Illinois ended the match with an average of a .069 hitting percentage with 28 kills and 27 assists. Wisconsin ended with 46 kills at a .268 average hitting percentage. Wisconsin had nine blocks and 57 digs.
Wisconsin traveled to Evanston on Saturday night and had a thrilling 5-set match.
Northwestern and Wisconsin traded leads for the entirety of the first set. Wisconsin’s offense was not having its best set. The team hit 14 kills at a .174 hitting percentage. The game was tied at 23 all. Northwestern’s Kayla Morin had a kill, but Wisconsin’s Molly Haggerty countered with a kill and a block on the next two points. Northwestern retaliated with a kill from Sofia Lavin, and Wisconsin’s Tionna Williams had an attack error. Northwestern won the set 27-25 on a kill from Gabrielle Hazen.
Northwestern took the lead in the second set and maintained it throughout. Wisconsin tied the score at 14 all, but Northwestern maintained its poise and took its lead back. Wisconsin’s offense was unable to get anything going the rest of the way. Northwestern won the set 25-18 on a block from Symone Abbott. Wisconsin had 11 kills on a .000 hitting percentage.
Wisconsin trailed again in the beginning of the third set. Wisconsin tied the game at 13 all and stole the lead from Northwestern. However, the Wildcats never trailed by much. Wisconsin won the set 25-21 on a kill from Lauryn Gillis. Both teams had solid offensive game in this set. Northwestern had 17 kills at .368 percent and Wisconsin had 16 kills at .382 percent.
The Badgers built a pretty solid lead in the beginning of the fourth set. Wisconsin led 20-16, but the Wildcats kept nipping at the heels of the Badgers. Northwestern tied the game at 22 all, but Wisconsin had two kills from Williams and Gillis and a service ace from Haggerty to win the set 25-22.
Wisconsin had a four-point lead in the halfway mark of the fifth set. Northwestern tightened the lead to two points, but Wisconsin ultimately won the set 15-11 on a kill from Haggerty. Wisconsin’s offense had 11 kills to help seal the deal, aided by two blocks on the defensive side.
The Badgers ended with a .217 hitting percentage, 66 kills and 92 digs. Northwestern ended with a .291 hitting percentage, 74 kills and 85 digs. Wisconsin’s resilience showed through in the tough five-set match. By keeping their confidence high and not letting little mistakes get to them, the Badgers maintained its seven-match winning streak.
Wisconsin now improves to 22-3 overall and 14-2 in the conference, keeping it in a solid second position of the conference. Wisconsin will host two ranked Big Ten opponents in the upcoming weekend, a good test a few weeks before the NCAA tournament. With only four matches left on the season, Wisconsin controls its own destiny in the Big Ten.