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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Sunday, June 16, 2024
Lauren Carlini

After dropping two Big Ten games, Wisconsin, led by Lauren Carlini, topped Illinois at the UW Field House. 

Wisconsin gets back on track with drawn-out win over the Illini

No. 19 Wisconsin (1-2 Big Ten, 9-4 overall) walked away with a victory in its Big Ten home opener against No. 7 Illinois (2-1, 11-3) Wednesday, winning 25-16, 25-21, 21-25 and 25-22.

Before the game began, Wisconsin’s players were already winning, with senior defensive specialist Taylor Morey receiving a plaque recognizing her as the recipient of the Steve Lowe Scholarship.

Wisconsin had a hitting percentage of .259 as a team for the match, with 56 kills. Redshirt junior outside hitter Romana Kriskova led the Badgers with 15 kills, hitting .400.

Junior setter Lauren Carlini led Wisconsin with 48 assets, while her counterpart, freshman setter Jordyn Poulter, recorded 50 assists.

Poulter’s strong play was no surprise, as Wisconsin head coach Kelly Sheffield acknowledged her strong freshman season pre-game.

“Their freshman setter has come in and very similar to Lauren, just doesn’t blink, even though this is her first year,” Sheffield said. 

Fortunately for the Badgers, Illinois had an uncharacteristically high number of errors, with 28 total. Wisconsin didn’t expect these gifts, as Illinois is usually able to effectively limit its mistakes. 

“They don’t beat themselves,” Sheffield said. “They’re really well coached … They’re going to be one of those teams that are going to be right into it till the very end.”

Coming into the match, Wisconsin was on a two-game losing streak, dropping its first two Big Ten matches. In its Big Ten opener, Wisconsin was swept by No. 1 Penn State and then fell later that weekend to No. 12 Ohio State in five sets.

In the first set, Illinois couldn’t get anything going offensively hitting .075 percent as a team with 10 kills and seven errors, while the Badgers hit .333 percent with 16 kills and only four errors.

Kriskova’s three early kills helped Wisconsin come out fast in the first set, jumping to an early 11-6 lead. Before the Fighting Illini could catch their breath, the Badgers extended their lead to 18-10 and went on to win 7 of the next 15 points to earn a 21-17 first set victory.

The second set was closer, as Illinois and Wisconsin battled back and forth before the Badgers pulled out the close-set victory.  With Wisconsin up 22-21, UW went on a 4-0 run to close out the set, finalized by an ace by freshman defensive specialist Amber MacDonald.

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Again the Badgers defense stifled Illinois as they hit .171 percent as a team with eight errors, while the Badgers hit .229 percent as a team. 

The tight nature of the second set carried over into the third, before Illinois closed out the set. There were 12 ties in the set and neither team had larger than a four-point edge.

Illinois cut down on their errors in the third set while also recording 15 kills. Unfortunately for the Badgers, they hit a team low .211 percent.

In the fourth and final set the Badgers had to manufacture a comeback after falling behind early to the fighting Illini 12-15. UW mustered up a 9-1 run to build a 21-16 lead.

As they did all game, Illinois did not back down, going on a run of their own and closing the gap to 22-24 before Wisconsin finally closed out the set and the match.

Next up for the Badgers is Northwestern at home Oct. 4 before hitting the road Oct. 9 against Rutgers. 

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