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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Friday, June 14, 2024

Volleyball: Badgers head down south to face streaking Illinois

The Badgers (2-1 Big Ten, 11-2 overall) will continue their Big Ten campaign this Saturday when they travel to Champaign, Ill., to take on No. 16 Illinois (11-3, 3-0). The Badgers are on a two game conference winning streak and will be looking to extend their streak against the Fighting Illini.

Most recently, the Badgers travelled to Evanston, Ill., to take on the Northwestern Wildcats. That game proved to be little to no trouble for the Badgers, as they swept the Wildcats 3-0.

The match was highlighted by a dominant Badger offense that recorded a .396 attack percentage. The offense was extremely balanced however, as seven Badgers had seven kills or more; freshman outside hitter Kelli Bates led the team with 13 kills.

The Badger offense wasn’t the only thing on display in this match as their defense also proved to be too much for the Wildcats. Wisconsin held Northwestern to a .243 attack percentage, while out blocking Northwestern 6.5-1.

The Fighting Illini are on a Big Ten win streak of their own after beating Maryland, Rutgers and Minnesota at home. Illinois’ most notable loss this season came against No. 1 Stanford during the Big-Ten/Pac-12 Challenge in Stanford, Calif.

Illinois put up a strong fight against the Cardinal but were eventually defeated in five sets. However, Stanford seems to have the Big Ten's number, as No. 3 Penn State’s only loss of the season also came at the hands of the Cardinal.

After that early season test, Illinois hasn’t missed a beat in Big Ten play. None of the three opponents they have played so far have put up a fight, all losing to the Illini in sweeps.

Their most recent game against No. 18 Minnesota proved how dominant the Illini can be at home. Illinois fully controlled the offensive end as they recorded 54 kills to Minnesota’s 37. Additionally, their defense was dominant as they scooped up 60 digs to the Gophers' 48.

Senior opposite hitter Liz McMahon of the Illini had a stellar all-around performance as she lead the team with 19 kills, seven blocks and two aces to register a .310 attack percentage.

The Badgers will not only have McMahon to worry about, but also redshirt junior opposite hitter Jocelynn Birks, who recorded 17 kills, three aces and three blocks. Between the two of them, they recorded 36 kills against the Gophers.

The Badgers seem prepared to take on the big hitters of Illinois and seem poised to extend their Big Ten win streak to three. Following this match, Wisconsin returns home to take on Rutgers on Oct. 10 followed by a home match against Maryland on Oct. 12.

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