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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Saturday, June 22, 2024

UW volleyball trounces Michigan State, Michigan

The No. 18 UW Volleyball team (4-4 Big Ten, 14-5 overall) got two much needed conference victories this weekend, as it defeated the No. 23 Michigan State Spartans (12-6 overall, 4-4 Big Ten) 30-25, 33-35, 30-23 and 30-25 Friday night and then the Michigan Wolverines (4-4 Big Ten, 10-8 overall) 30-26, 30-25, 25-30 and 30-22 Saturday. 




The match against Michigan State was a continuous exchange of leads. After winning game one, the Badgers jumped out to an early lead in game two; the lead was quickly overtaken by the Spartans. Michigan State began to break away in mid-game, having their biggest lead at 15-11. But, due to some timely hitting, the Badgers were able to regain the lead at 32-31. However, the Spartans were again able to pull away and win the game, 33-35. 




Games three and four were a different story. For the remainder of the match, Erin Byrd became the star of the night. The senior outside hitter posted a career-high 29 kills in the match, surpassing the 1,000-kill career kill mark. Byrd became the 12th player in Wisconsin history to reach this milestone and the fourth with 1,000 career kills and 1,000 career digs. 




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\I'm really comfortable with my hitting right now,"" Byrd said. ""I think I've figured out what works for me as a hitter."" 




Sophomore hitter Jill Odenthal and junior setter Morgan Shields had career nights of their own. Odenthal had a personal best 17 kills on the night while Shields posted a career-high 68 assists. 




Against Michigan, the Badgers dominated all aspects in all games, except game three where their only lead came at 1-0. Game four was the exact opposite, as Wisconsin took a 1-0 lead and never looked back, holding the lead until their 30-25 victory sealed the match and the weekend sweep. 




The starting lineup used for both matches was the fifth different one the Badgers have put out this season. The most notable difference was the addition of junior Lisa Zukowski at libero. 




""She was great about changing positions and she led us in digs [Friday],"" UW Head Coach Pete Waite said. 




""I loved it,"" Zukowski said of her new position. ""It was fun."" 




Zukowski had 14 digs Friday and 10 Saturday. 




Both Waite and the Badger players said they like the new rotation.  




""The changes we made in the lineup are working well and they're still just getting used to each other in those positions,"" Waite said. ""At this time we're staying with it ... I think we've found something that we're clicking pretty well with and that's the kind of thing you stick with."" 




""I think the lineup is good and everyone's out there working hard,"" Byrd said. 




Though having a set lineup is an advantage, UW benefited from the constant changes by gaining trust in each other.  




""We have enough confidence in everyone on the bench that can come in and do a great job,"" Shields said. 




After a split on the road last weekend, the Badgers said they were beginning to feel some pressure.  




""We got into this week of practice knowing that it was now or never,"" Shields said. 




""We needed to step it up this weekend if we were going to get in a run and have a bid at the Big Ten."" 




With the Big Ten conference continuing to beat itself up, anyone is still in the race for the conference title.  




""It's just a battle,"" Waite said. ""It's up for grabs and anything can happen now. We feel we can beat anyone in the conference. We just have to go out and prove it now.\

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