LONDON — As she’s ascended through the ranks of volleyball, Lauren Carlini has become accustomed to adjustment.She’s bridged the gap between West Aurora High School and Wisconsin, proved herself to USA Volleyball coaches and recently forged a professional career with Florentine outfit Savino Del Bene Volley Scandicci.Of course, there have been some difficult moments.
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Although they transpired under decidedly different circumstances, the story behind each of Wisconsin’s last two trips to the NCAA tournament feature exactly the same ending.A year after suffering a tragic defeat to Stanford in the 2016 elite eight match, the Badgers (11-9 Big Ten, 22-10 overall) once again watched their championship hopes collapse at the hands of the Cardinals (19-1 Pac 12, 29-3), losing by a score of 25-22, 20-25, 21-25, 19-25 in the Sweet 16 Friday night in California.UW’s loss was underscored by its inability to slow down Stanford’s electric offense, a unit which hit an astronomical .436 on the night.
Being in the moment and focusing on what lies ahead of you is crucial to game-time focus. Not dwelling on the past or looking too far into the future is what makes or breaks a player’s presence on the court.As the Wisconsin Badgers (11-9 Big Ten 22-9 overall)head into more competitive rounds of the NCAA Tournament, keeping loose and enjoying the moment are key principles in the team’s mindset.
After starting the 2017 season undefeated, the No. 11 Wisconsin Badgers (11-9 Big Ten, 22-9 overall) started to struggle.
Road warriors: Wisconsin embracing underdog mentality in preparation for NCAA tournament match with Marquette
After advancing to the postseason 13 times over the course of his career, Wisconsin head coach Kelly Sheffield has become quite adept at preparing his team to play in December.
Going into the weekend, the No. 13 Wisconsin Badgers (10-8 Big Ten, 19-8 overall) were hoping to play more consistently than they have since Big Ten competition started.
In what has been a largely up and down 2017 campaign, No. 13 Wisconsin hit perhaps its lowest point of the season this past weekend.On the road in West Lafayette, the No. 13 Badgers (8-8 Big Ten, 17-8 overall) fell to the Purdue Boilermakers in straight sets last Saturday, suffering their first sweep since 2016.
Falling from No. 8 to No. 10, the Wisconsin Badgers (8-8 Big Ten, 17-8 overall) split their weekend series in Indiana as they swept the Indiana Hoosiers (1-15, 12-16) 3-0 before getting swept by the No. 25 Purdue Boilermakers (10-6, 20-7).The Badgers’ road trip results paint a similar picture to their overall conference play this season.
When setter Sydney Hilley and middle blocker Dana Rettke were first brought together for a campus visit in 2014, they didn’t interact much with each other.
After a heart-breaking five-set loss to Ohio State (6-8 Big Ten, 13-12 overall) on Friday, the No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers (7-7 Big Ten, 16-7 overall) were able to once again pull even in Big Ten play by beating University of Maryland (5-9 Big Ten, 16-10 overall) on Saturday 3-1.This weekend, Wisconsin was tasked with having to quickly recover from a match, having back-to-back games for the first time in a while.
In what has come to encapsulate a troubling yet all too familiar theme of the 2017 volleyball season, a match that No. 8 Wisconsin looked firmly in control of completely unraveled after intermission, as a possible home sweep for the Badgers ended in a disastrous 25-14, 25-16, 21-25, 23-25,13-15 loss to conference rival Ohio State Friday night at the Field House.Like many contests that have yielded similar outcomes this year, UW (6-7 Big Ten, 13-7 overall) coasted through the first two sets of play, strolling into the lockeroom holding a 2-0 lead heading into the break.But once the players returned to the court for the third and potentially final frame, their previous good fortune went entirely awry, as the Badgers fell into a funk they could never find a way out of.
Over halfway through the season, it is safe to say that the Big Ten schedule has not done the 2017 Wisconsin Badgers any favors.After amassing an immaculate 9-0 record in the non-conference slate, No. 8 Wisconsin (6-6 Big Ten, 15-6 overall) has come back down to earth since the Big Ten season began, splitting its first 12 conference contests evenly.
Following the loss to top-ranked Penn State on the road this past Wednesday, Wisconsin head coach Kelly Sheffield spoke very candidly about his disappointment with the play of the Badgers’ starting outside hitters, publicly criticizing the lack of production he saw from seniors Kelli Bates and Lauryn Gillis.But the two veteran attackers took the scrutiny in stride and responded to their coach’s call to action with a much-improved performance Saturday night against Northwestern.
According to the NCAA, the No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers (5-5 Big Ten, 14-5 overall) have endured the second-hardest schedule in the nation.
After an impressive previous week at the UW Fieldhouse that saw the No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers (5-5 Big Ten, 14-5 overall) defeat both the No. 6 Nebraska Cornhuskers (9-1, 16-4) and the Indiana Hoosiers (1-9, 12-10), the Badgers responded with a less convincing two game stint this week.
Wisconsin senior outside hitter Kelli Bates was unabashedly clear about what a win over rival Minnesota would mean to her.
Successfully closing out opponents has proven to be quite the challenge for the No. 11 Wisconsin Badgers as of late.
Volleyball:After coming off of two tough losses against ranked teams, the No. 11 Badgers (2-4 Big Ten, 11-4 overall) are eager to take on No. 5 Nebraska (6-0 Big Ten, 13-3 overall) this Wednesday at the field house.
In Big Ten volleyball, nothing ever comes easy. Each team in the conference must overcome their fair share of obstacles, fighting to survive a brutal schedule which proves immensely challenging for even the nation’s most talented teams.And for the No. 7 Wisconsin Badgers (2-4 Big Ten, 11-4 overall), the arduous nature of life in the Big Ten has certainly taken its toll.
Nothing quite beats the atmosphere of a gym that is hosting two rival teams. The energy is multiplied, the fans are buzzing and the hairs on the back of everyone’s necks are standing tall.