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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Sunday, June 16, 2024
Ellen Chapman

Despite leading the Badgers with 13 kills, senior outside hitter Ellen Chapman could not lead Wisconsin to a win over Penn State Wednesday in a rematch of last year’s national title game.

Badgers fall in championship rematch

No. 3 Penn State (1-0 Big Ten, 13-1 overall) swept No. 5 Wisconsin (0-1, 9-2) in three sets by mirroring the last match they played for the national championship.

The sold-out Big Ten opener had fans, energy and intense play, but no Badger victory over the Nittany Lions as Wisconsin lost in three sets, 25-17, 25-21 and 25-21.

Disappointed by the loss, head coach Kelly Sheffield was still excited about the large turnout.

“To walk in and see a full house and it being sold out prior to match time is awesome,” Sheffield said. “It means so much to our program to have that kind of support, we were really excited about the energy and numbers of the crowd.”

Although the Badgers could not defeat the Nittany Lions, the crowd brought motivation throughout the sets. The fans responded to freshman outside hitter Kelli Bates’ impressive play both offensively and defensively, with nine kills overall and 21 balls in the backcourt.

The most kills for the Badgers came from senior outside hitter Ellen Chapman with 13 throughout the match. The Badgers’ usual big hitter, senior outside hitter Courtney Thomas, was shut down by the Nittany Lions.

“Penn State focused in on shutting down our attack from behind, so our slides and Thomas, and everything on that side of court were not as dominant tonight,” Sheffield said.

Besides shutting down Wisconsin’s offense, Penn State was able to put down balls on the other side of the net by switching up their shots.

“We knew that [Penn State] had some hitters whose tendencies are to tip, but something great about their offense is that they have huge hitters and they can mix in tips and rolls randomly,” Chapman said. “We knew that for a couple hitters, but they did a great job doing that when we least expected it.”

Penn State’s offense found Wisconsin’s holes through their freshmen outside hitters Simone Lee with 12 kills overall and Ali Frantti with nine. The Nittany Lions’ senior setter Micha Hancock added to the kill count with nine kills as well throughout the match.

Bates’ first Big Ten match previewed the high competition she will face all season.

“It shows how good the Big Ten is, they are a really solid team from all cylinders,” Bates said. “It was good to get that good of competition right off the bat for the Big Ten season.”

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Although they lost their first match of conference play, the Badgers have the rest of season to improve.

“The same thing happened to Penn State last year and they ended up winning a Big Ten title and national championship,” said sophomore setter Lauren Carlini. “They lost to Michigan State in their first game; anything is possible at this point in the season.”

The Badgers continue Big Ten play Sunday against Ohio State (0-1, 9-4) in the Field House at 1 p.m.

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