The Badger women’s volleyball team (1-3 Big Ten, 13-4 overall) hosted No. 1 Penn State (4-0 Big Ten, 14-1 overall) Friday night in what was sure to be one of its toughest matches of the season. Unfortunately for Wisconsin, it ended with a three-set sweep by the Nittney Lions (25-19, 25-21, 25-7).
When asked about Penn State’s performance on Friday night, head coach Pete Waite acknowledged the Nittany Lions as deserving of their No. 1 national ranking.
“[Ohio State] will not be bringing what Penn State had,” Waite said in reference to Saturday night’s match.
One thing Ohio State did not bring is junior Ariel Scott, the 6-4 outside hitter for the Nittany Lions who dominated the net throughout the three sets with 13.5 points, second only to Penn State junior outside hitter Deja McClendon (14.5). It was apparent since early in the first set that Penn State was a taller team, towering over the net and not allowing much by. However the Badgers held tough, making many nice saves—most notably by sophomore server Courtney Thomas and senior middle blocker Alexis Mitchell.
The Field House was alive with excitement and support from a full student section on student night. Unfortunately for Badger fans, free t-shirts and a raucous student section were not enough to aid Wisconsin to victory Friday night.
On Saturday night the Badgers hosted No. 22 Ohio State (2-2 Big Ten, 11-5 overall) in what ended as a 3-1 loss for Wisconsin (25-21, 25-11, 19-25, 25-20).
Waite acknowledged his players have to start playing as a team again. Wisconsin had 10 errors in the first set and eight in the second, but it bounced back in the third set with only two errors. The errors suggested Wisconsin was not outranked, but rather outplayed.
“There may have been some hangover from the match last night,” Waite said.
Even after back-to-back losses this weekend, the Badgers might have found something to build on. Mitchell said the Badgers’ hitting improved from Saturday night. The Davenport, Iowa native had 12 kills and 17 total points against the Buckeyes.
“We knew that [Friday] night we weren’t hitting the way we should,” Mitchell said. “Tonight we were hitting the ball really well and were able to get a lot of one-on-ones on the blocks and put the ball away more.”
The Badgers will again play a home series next weekend, with No. 24 Michigan State (Friday) and Michigan (Sunday) coming to the UW Field House.