With a loud and faithful crowd behind it, No. 6 Wisconsin (16-4 Big Ten, 26-6 overall) swept Iowa State (11-5 Big 12, 19-11 overall) 25-18, 25-15, 25-21 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in front of a sold-out UW Field House Friday night.
The Badgers have now advanced to the Sweet 16 for the third consecutive season.
“You saw two teams throwing their bodies all over the place,” head coach Kelly Sheffield said. “There were some great rallies and hopefully the fans felt like they got their money’s worth with the effort by both teams.”
Despite Iowa State’s strong defense, UW had just seven attack errors the whole game, which greatly pleased Sheffield.
“I thought we executed really well,” Sheffield said. “Seven attack errors is pretty good against a team that prides itself on suffocating backcourt defense. Our players were patient, worked hard in transition and took what was given to them.”
In the first set, Iowa State jumped out to an 8-5 lead early before a kill by junior Haleigh Nelson sparked a 3-0 Badger run to tie the game at 8-8. UW extended its lead to 14-10 with a kill by freshman Tionna Williams and two attack errors by the Cyclones.
Iowa State again cut UW’s lead to four after a Badger attack error made the score 16-12. The Badgers then went on to win the next three points to give them a 19-12 lead.
Later in the set, Iowa State cut UW’s lead to 20-16 before consecutive kills by redshirt junior Romana Kriskova and a service ace by Nelson make the score 23-16. The Cyclones won the next two points, but a kill by Kriskova and an ISU attack error gave UW a first-set victory.
The Badgers jumped out to a 9-3 lead in the second set thanks to four attack errors by Iowa State. UW then grabbed a 13-6 lead with back-to-back kills by Williams and sophomore Kelli Bates.
The Cyclones cut the lead to 14-10 with three straight points, but Wisconsin answered with a 6-3 run. Two attack errors by UW made the score 21-15 before the Badgers won the last four points of the set by kills by junior Lauren Carlini, Bates and two ISU attack errors.
The Cyclones did not go down without a fight, as they took a 6-2 lead early in the third set. A UW service error gave ISU an 8-6 lead before the Badgers won the next three points thanks to an ISU attack error, a Bates service ace and an ISU ball handling error. An ISU kill and UW ball handling error gave ISU a 10-9 lead.
With UW down 17-19 in the third set, the Badgers won three straight points to retake the lead at 20-19. An ISU kill tied the game at 20-20, but UW won five of the next six points to secure the second-round victory.
The Badgers tallied 40 kills to ISU’s 38, and also out-blocked the Cyclones 9-4. UW out-dug the Cyclones 45-42 and recorded 39 assists to ISU’s 33.
Williams led the Badgers with nine kills while Bates and Kriskova had eight. Senior Taylor Morey had a match-high 17 digs, while Carlini had a match-high 34 assists.
The Badgers look to advance to their third straight Regional Final as they will take on Florida Dec. 11 in the Sweet 16 in Austin, Texas.