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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Sunday, June 16, 2024
Dominique Thompson

Dominique Thompson (14) was the star of the Illinois match.

Volleyball: Badgers take on new foes Maryland and Rutgers

The No. 6 Badgers (3-1 Big Ten, 12-2 overall) will look to extend their three-game winning streak this weekend as they take on Big Ten newcomers Rutgers, Friday, and Maryland, Sunday.

Most recently, Wisconsin survived a hostile environment and a tough No. 15 Illinois team to dispatch the Fighting Illini 3-1 in Champaign, Illinois, last Saturday.

Unlike their previous match on the road against Northwestern, the Badgers had to work to defeat Illinois, dropping the third set 25-11 before rallying to win a tight fourth set 25-23.

Redshirt senior middle blocker Dominique Thompson was one of the stars of the match, contributing 14 kills and six blocks and leading a stingy Badger defense which held Illinois to a .212 attack percentage and finished with more digs than the Illini.

Rutgers (0-4 Big Ten, 7-10 overall) has had a rough start to its maiden Big Ten season as the Scarlet Knights have been unable to win a set in their first four conference matches. Freshman outside hitter Meme Fletcher has been one of the few bright spots for Rutgers, leading the team with 2.69 kills per set and chipping in 153 digs.

The Scarlet Knights’ defense should provide opportunities for a Badger offense that was held to a .197 attacking percentage against Illinois, as Rutgers ranks near the bottom of the Big Ten in digs, blocks and blocking percentage.

Maryland (0-4 Big Ten, 7-8 overall) is also winless in conference play, but the Terrapins have been more competitive, losing a tight match against Northwestern 3-2 Sept. 27. The Terrapins also came out strong against No. 16 Purdue Sunday, winning the first set 26-24 before fading away to lose the match 3-1.

While the Terrapins are 13th in the Big Ten in hitting percentage, assists and kills, the Badgers will have to watch senior outside hitter Adreené Elliott carefully. Elliott is among Maryland’s top offensive options, leading the team with 3.93 kills per set, a mark which places her fourth in the Big Ten.

Freshman middle blocker Hailey Murray is another Terrapin worth keeping an eye on after turning in a solid all-around effort against Purdue, producing nine kills and seven blocks.

The Badgers will face off against Rutgers Friday at 7 p.m. and Maryland Sunday at 1 p.m. with both games taking place at the UW Field House. The team will then travel to Minnesota for a Wednesday showdown against the No. 23 Gophers.

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