The Wisconsin women’s volleyball team recently announced their spring schedule. They will take on Illinois, Creighton, Green Bay, and Iowa State over four weekends in April. Most of the matches, besides the one home match in the Field House, will be played at smaller venues in hopes that people who usually do not get to watch high-level volleyball will have the opportunity to do so.
The Badgers do not always have spring games because of lack of players and injuries, but this year they had a small graduating class and a series of early enrollees that are hoping to make an immediate impact her in Madison. It’s a great opportunity for the new players and the ones previously out with injury to get a feel for the game at such a high level in a more relaxed setting. Spring games usually consist of a few sets and a series of drills designed to keep the game competitive, while still focusing on a particular skill. Players positions will get mixed up, the the coaching staff will have an opportunity to see players compete.
Creighton and Illinois will be the Badgers’ toughest challenges of the spring. Illinois has been very good in the past, and they know how to play Big Ten volleyball. The Big Ten is known as the best conference in college volleyball, and the Fighting Illini always show up to make games competitive. Creighton made it all the way to the Elite Eight last season before losing to perennial powerhouse, Texas.
It will be interesting to see how the Badgers fare with the loss of the senior class. Most notably are the the losses of middle blocker Haleigh Nelson, right side Romana Kriskova, and setter Lauren Carlini. Nelson came into the program extremely underrated, and developed into one of the Badgers’ most constant players. Kriskova was a transfer from VCU, and really helped Wisconsin add a punch to their offense. Lauren Carlini, on the other hand, arrived at Wisconsin ranked as the number one player in the nation. Four years later, she has achieved First Team All-American status three times and plans to train with the U.S. National Team and play professionally in Europe. With their absence, the Badgers have big holes to fill.
Sydney Hilley is expected to take the place of Carlini. Hilley was also a highly sought after player and is one of the early enrollees at Wisconsin, and will get her first opportunity to represent Wisconsin. The other positions are less set in stone, and these spring matches will be a great opportunity for players to show their improvement and for coaches to determine team chemistry.
Wisconsin volleyball fans are die hards, and are no doubt excited to see their team in action as well as get a glimpse into what the future holds. Spring matches start April 1 as the Badgers travel to Aurora, Illinois. They return to The Field House on April 15 for a free game.