MADISON, Wis. — The three-seed Wisconsin Badgers beat Howard 3-0 on Thursday night to advance in the NCAA tournament to play a second match.
Wisconsin dominated the first set, winning 25-11. Howard tied the score at 4-4, but the Badgers went on a nine-point run to build a solid lead. The Badgers controlled the set the rest of the way. Wisconsin won the set on a service ace from Lauren Carlini. There were 17 kills from the Badgers and three blocks.
Howard took a four-point lead at the 8-4 mark of the second set. Wisconsin cut the Howard lead to two, and the two teams swapped leads for the next few points. Wisconsin had the lead at 15-14 and maintained its lead the rest of the set, though Howard was close behind. Wisconsin won the set 25-18 after a 5-0 run.
Wisconsin dominated the third and final set once again. Wisconsin took the lead right away 3-0, and Howard never had a chance to catch up. Howard was unable to respond to the Wisconsin offense, not being able to get a play going. Wisconsin won the set on an attack error from Howard’s Olubunmi Okunade.
The Badgers had 51 kills, compared to Howard’s 24 kills. Wisconsin’s defense put up eight blocks and 49 digs. The Badgers hit at a .402 percent, their fourth-highest hitting percentage of the season.
Wisconsin’s Molly Haggerty led all players with 16 kills, followed by Wisconsin’s Haleigh Nelson and Lauryn Gillis with 11 kills. Lauren Carlini had 41 assists and 10 digs, giving her her 73rd double-double on her career.
“We did a great job right away, coming in strong with passing and getting it to Lauren so we could get our middles involved and we did a great job focusing throughout the whole match,” Haggerty said.
“We just played our game,” UW coach Kelly Sheffield said. “Our passers did a really good job of first contact and we just went from there. Good match.”
Wisconsin plays the Washington State Cougars at the Field House on Friday evening. Washington State beat Marquette 3-1 on Thursday evening. The Cougars have an overall record of 22-11 on the season.
Washington State and Wisconsin played a few of the same teams during the season. Washington State lost to Purdue 1-3 in their second match of the year. The Badgers beat Purdue 3-2 in their two matches against the Boilermakers. Washington State beat Arizona 3-0 and 3-2 in its two matches. Wisconsin swept Arizona in its match against the Wildcats.
If Wisconsin continues to buckle down and get the job done, there may not be one team in the tournament that can stop the Badgers.