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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Thursday, May 26, 2022
Lauren Carlini

Minnesota spoils Badgers’ chance at upset, wins in five sets

In a back and forth thriller, No. 15 Wisconsin (4-3 Big Ten, 12-5 overall) fell in five sets to No. 11 Minnesota (6-2, 14-3), 25-11, 24-26, 16-25, 26-24, 11-15 Wednesday at the UW Field House. 

“It was one heck of a game,” head coach Kelly Sheffield said. “Both teams embraced the battle. It’s definitely the best we have fought this year and I was pleased we had a positive mentality and that we were able to rally to play a fifth game.”

Defense played a huge factor in the game, as the two teams combined for 27 blocks and 167 digs. Both teams struggled offensively, as UW hit .155 percent and had 63 kills and 34 errors while Minnesota hit .147 percent and had 56 kills and 28 attack errors. The Badgers won the first set easily, 25-11, with sophomore Kelli Bates recording five kills, and she went on to lead UW with 17 for the match. However, the Gophers woke up in the second set and squeezed out a 26-24 win. 

In the third set, the Gophers dominated, winning 25-16 with star senior outside hitter Daly Santana recording seven kills in the set. UW rallied as junior setter Lauren Carlini recorded four kills to give UW the win in the fourth set. Carlini recorded another kill in the fifth set to cut Minnesota’s lead to 13-11, but the Badgers would not get any closer as they dropped the next two points to lose 11-15. 

After UW held Santana without a kill in the first set, she tallied six in the second set and would go on to record a match-high 20 kills despite only hitting .162 percent for the game. 

“I think we did a pretty good job defensively holding her to .162 for the game,” Sheffield said. “What makes her really good is that she hits the entire court and she doesn’t hit the same shot twice in a row, which makes it really hard for us defensively. You really have to battle when you go up against a player like that.”

Not only did Santana keep UW guessing every time she hit the ball, she also moved very quickly, which was also a big challenge for the Badgers. 

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“When defending Santana, the pace is so quick that you have such a short amount of time to read the play,” said senior libero Taylor Morey. “She’s a great player but we’re going to approach her the same way we do with all the other players in the Big Ten so we can be successful against them.” 

Even though UW got out in front early, they had a feeling it was going to be a battle most of the night. 

“There’s no way we were going to keep playing as well as we did against an elite defensive team like that,” Sheffield said. “However, we really struggled in game three and had 11 attack errors so you know we can play better than that. Momentum can really change a lot in this game and that’s what happened tonight.” 

Despite the loss, the fact that the Badgers rallied from a 2-1 deficit wall gives them more confidence that they can play well when their backs are against the wall. 

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“When you’re put in a situation where you’re behind and you need to embrace it and play well is something we can get better at,” junior setter Lauren Carlini said. “We just need to keep being put in these situations so we know how to handle them.” 

Round two of the border battle against the Gophers will be Saturday in Minneapolis, Minn. at the Sports Pavilion at 8 p.m.

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