No. 16 Wisconsin (0-2 Big Ten, 8-4 overall) suffered its second consecutive loss of the season to 12th-ranked Ohio State (1-1, 12-2) today at St. John’s Arena in Columbus in a hard fought five-set heartbreaker: 25-17, 18-25, 25-20, 21-25, 15-11.
“The one thing I’m really happy with is that I thought we battled more than we have in any match this year,” UW head coach Kelly Sheffield said. “It might have looked a little sloppy at times, certainly in game one, but when they come in during the timeouts and you look them in the eye, you just see how they’re playing and their fighting spirit is starting to get where I’m wanting it to go. Now if you can mesh that spirit along with some confidence, that’s the trick.”
This game was a rematch from last year’s Sweet 16 matchup during the NCAA Tournament, which the Badgers won in a grueling five sets.
The match looked very similar, as both teams were tied at two through the first four sets. In the fifth set, the Buckeyes jumped out to a 7-2 lead. Then, UW went on a 3-0 run to make the score 9-7. Wisconsin would later make the score 12-10 before the Buckeyes would eventually extend their lead and win.
Losing two matches in a row has been very uncharacteristic of the Badgers over the past few seasons. The last time UW dropped two in a row was 2010.
UW had a .201 hitting percentage (58 kills-27 errors-154 total attempts) for the match and Ohio State hit .250 (62-23-156). The Buckeyes also out-blocked the Badgers 15-8.
“When you look at past matches with us and Ohio State, these hitting percentages are actually pretty high,” Sheffield said. “These are two teams that usually defend really, really hard. It wasn’t a lights-out offensive performance by any means, but you know what you’re going to get when you’re playing against Ohio State.”
Sophomore outside hitter Kelli Bates led the Badgers with 13 kills while sophomore outside hitter Lauryn Gillis, junior middle blocker Haleigh Nelson and junior outside hitter Romana Kriskova finished with 11 each. Junior setter Lauren Carlini had 50 assists and recorded three kills.
Senior libero Taylor Morey led UW’s defense with a match-high 20 digs, marking the third time this season she has tallied 20 or more digs. Carlini also added 13 digs while Gillis and Bates finished with 11 a piece.
Freshman middle blocker Tionna Williams led with five blocks, while Bates and Nelson finished with three.
The Badgers will try to snap their losing streak, as they will face ninth-ranked Illinois at UW Field House Wednesday night at 7 p.m.
UWBadgers.com contributed to this report.