The Wisconsin volleyball team was unable to win a set in either of its matches at the Field House over the weekend, as two-time defending NCAA champion Penn State handed the Badgers a loss Friday, and Ohio State picked up the victory Saturday.
With the defeat, the Badgers have now lost three matches in a row and were swept in all three. Wisconsin head coach Pete Waite said he thinks his team's current energy level may be one reason the team is struggling.
""We've hit a plateau as far as the energy level on the court,"" Waite said. ""In the Big Ten, if you have any sort of a flat day, you're going to pay for it.""
No. 1 Penn State (14-0 Big Ten, 26-0 overall) did not disappoint in its visit to the Field House.
A season-high 5,365 fans came out to see the Badgers take on the top team in the country, but the Nittany Lions have won their past 90 matches, and they were clearly the better squad Friday night.
""Penn State showed why they are the No. 1 team in the country,"" Waite said. ""They're an excellent, athletic team, but I'm disappointed we didn't come out stronger to start with. I think we gave them some points just because they had Penn State on their uniform, rather than us really making them earn the points.""
Wisconsin (6-8, 11-12) never held a lead over the Lions. The third set of the match was much more competitive than the first two, but untimely service errors led to a Penn State victory in the third set.
""I thought we woke up in the third set and realized we could play with them, but it was just too little too late,"" Waite said. ""We were close in the third, but then we'd make a serving error. You can't just do that against a team like that.""
The Badgers defeated Ohio State (8-6, 20-7) in Columbus back in October, but an improved Buckeye squad posed a tougher challenge for the Badgers this time around.
""They've really evolved as a team, and we've seen that coming,"" Waite said. ""We've seen them beat some really good teams along the way since we beat them. That happens sometimes—you beat someone and they change things.""
Ohio State's victory was largely due to its domination in blocks and errors. Ohio State had 16 blocks to Wisconsin's 4, and the Buckeyes committed only 6 errors to the Badgers' 27.
The Badgers will hit the road to take on Iowa Wednesday. The Hawkeyes defeated the Badgers 3-1 in the Field House back in September. Wisconsin then returns to Madison to host Minnesota in a Sunday matinee matchup.
""We need to come out with an attitude that we know we can win,"" senior outside hitter Brittney Dolgner said. ""If we come out with that attitude, I think things will just come from there.""