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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Thursday, May 26, 2022
Wisconsin Volleyball

The Badgers are hoping to continue their success in the Big Ten against Rutgers and Illinois this week.

Wisconsin readies for Border Battle

No. 15 Wisconsin (4-2 Big Ten, 12-4 overall) takes on rival No. 11 Minnesota (5-1, 13-3) in part one of this year’s Border Battle Wednesday night, a match that has major implications in the Big Ten standings.

“It’s kind of an interesting week in front of us,” said UW head coach Kelly Sheffield. “It’s the only time all year that we will play the same opponent in back-to-back matches. They’re probably playing as well as anybody in the country. Got a lot of experience on that team, a lot of returning experience. We’ve got a big challenge.”

Aside from Wednesday’s matchup, the Badgers will also play the Gophers in Minneapolis, Minn., this Saturday. Playing a home-and-home series against the same team in one week has been a common occurrence in women’s volleyball over the last few years, but is considered rare in many other sports. However, there has been talk that schedules may be adjusted to eliminate the home-and-home series next year.

“It’s unique, but 14 teams playing 20 matches, that’s an unusual kind of deal,” said Sheffield. “This will probably be the last year that we do it, is my understanding.”

Minnesota has lots of talent, which includes senior outside hitter Daly Santana, sophomore libero Dalianliz Rosado and junior middle blockers Hannah and Paige Tapp have all been major factors for Minnesota’s success thus far. The Gophers went just 19-12 overall and 9-11 in conference play last season.

“They’re better in every aspect,” said Sheffield. “They don’t have holes in their ball control like they did a year ago. They’re very solid passing wise and their lineup is a lot more stable. They’re playing like a team that’s got a lot of mojo going on right now. When you have confidence you feel like you can conquer the world, and you watch them, and you’re like, ‘this team believes in themselves,’ and that’s a fun place to be.”

The Badgers, who have won four consecutive conference matches, have been blocking great in the last few games, racking up 11 blocks against Rutgers on Friday and nine against Maryland on Saturday and hope they can continue this trend against the Gophers, who Wisconsin has bested in three of the last four meetings between the two rivals.

“We were three blocks per set this past weekend,” said Sheffield. “When you get a lot of blocks, then everybody thinks that you’re great at blocking, and when you don’t block, everybody thinks you’re a horrible blocking team. I think we’re getting a little bit better but as a coach you still sit there and think that there is so much room that we got to get better in that area.”

The first round of the rivalry begins Wednesday night at UW Field House at 7 p.m.

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