Wisconsin and Oregon took the court again for another high-stakes matchup Thursday night, not in basketball this time, but in volleyball. In a matchup these two fan bases have grown accustomed to seeing in winner-take-all matches the past few years, the No. 10 Badgers (16-4 Big Ten, 25-6 overall) took their turn at breaking the Duck’s (10-10 Pac-12, 16-14 overall) hearts, earning a four-set victory.
The crowd had an undeniable effect on the game.
“It can be real tough,” Oregon head coach Jim Moore said. “When I was back in the Midwest, people show up and that's part of doing it. I'm glad they're here. I was glad the little kids lined up even in an NCAA match to slap their hands to warm up."
Wisconsin hit .282 as a team with 61 team kills on 19 errors. Sophomore outside hitter Lauryn Gillis led the Badgers with 14 kills while sophomore outside hitter Kelli Bates finished right behind her with 13. Junior middle blocker Haleigh Nelson and redshirt junior outside hitter Romana Kriskova rounded out the leaderboard for the Badgers with 10 kills each.
Wisconsin’s defense dominated the first set, holding Oregon to a .109 attack percentage, with two team blocks and 22 digs. Most impressively, they sided out at 73 percent. Bates came out swinging hard in the first set and tallied eight kills on a .571 hitting percentage, while junior setter Lauren Carlini dished out 13 assists.
In the second set the Ducks tied the Badgers up at one set apiece with a 25-21 win. Oregon hit .344 percent as a team in the second set, recording 14 total team kills. Wisconsin, on the other hand, hit .265 percent as a team with 15 kills, but committed six errors.
“I thought the biggest difference for that set was they amped up their serving and really put a lot of pressure, especially Frankie Shebby,” head coach Kelly Sheffield said.
The Ducks and Badgers went back and forth before what looked a series of communication errors on the court sparked a 5-3 Oregon run to close out the set. Wisconsin tried to use its timeout to regain momentum but they couldn’t stop the Ducks’ run. The Badgers never regained their cohesion after that play, even hitting the ball into the ceiling scoreboard on one play.
In the third set the Badgers regained control, taking the set 25-21. They hit .281 as a team in the set and registered six kills.
The fourth set was much of the same, with the Badgers staggering the Ducks on offense. Oregon hit only .121 as a team in the last set and fell 25-19 in the set.
Up next for Wisconsin is the Iowa State Cyclones. In their first matchup of the tournament, the Cyclones swept Miami 25-21, 26-24 and 25-20. Iowa State recorded 45 kills with 12 errors on .289 percent hitting. The Cyclones also served well, acing the Hurricanes eight times.
Iowa State has beat up on the unranked opponents in the Big 12 but has not faired as well against ranked opponents, as it was swept by No. 3 Texas and lost 3-2 to No. 13 Colorado State earlier in the season.
The second round playoff game will take place at the UW Field House Friday at 8 p.m.