The Wisconsin Badgers (8-2 Big Ten, 16-3 overall) continued to struggle against the top competition in the country this weekend, falling to No. 1 Nebraska (8-1, 17-1) in straight sets.
The Cornhuskers dominated the Badgers in Lincoln, Neb., Friday, winning two close sets and then cruising in the third to seal the victory.
The first set was closely contested with the teams tied at 12 points apiece, but then the Cornhuskers pulled away with a 4-point run. Wisconsin started a comeback when it was down 23-17 by scoring four straight points, but fell short, losing the set 25-21.
UW continued to fight in the second set, but was unable to string points together, something Nebraska was able to take advantage of with their offense. A big reason for the Badgers' inability to put runs together was the defense of the Cornhuskers, which had 10 blocks in the game and is second in the Big Ten with 2.86 blocks per set. The Badgers' defense kept them in the set, but in the end, Nebraska hung on 25-22.
Wisconsin fell apart in the third set, allowing an early 6-point run to give Nebraska a 9-1 lead. After getting down early, the Badgers were unable to come back as the Cornhuskers finished off the sweep with a 25-15 victory in the third set.
UW didn’t let the loss affect their mindset in Iowa City, Iowa, when they defeated the Hawkeyes (5-5, 15-7) in straight sets Saturday. The Badgers came out looking to redeem themselves in the first set and they did just that, jumping out to an early 8-3 lead. Wisconsin did what it struggled so much to do on Friday, stringing points together with an 8-point run to take 20-9 lead. They held on to win the first set 25-15.
The second and third sets were highly contested, but the offense of the Badgers allowed them to prevail and finish off the sweep, winning the second set 25-20 and the third set 25-23.
The stars of the weekend were once again the young talent of the team, freshman outside hitter Molly Haggerty and sophomore middle back Tionna Williams. Williams led the team with 11 kills against Nebraska and was second on the team with two blocks. Haggerty also had two blocks against Nebraska, but she took over against Iowa with 13 kills and two blocks.
These two young players have become crucial to the success of the Badgers this season, emerged as two of the team’s top players. Haggerty leads the team in kills, while Williams is fourth in kills and leads the team in blocks. With these two, the Badgers will still have a bright future after seniors Lauren Carlini and Haleigh Nelson graduate.
Wisconsin will come back home for its next two matches taking on No. 9 Penn State Friday and Rutgers Sunday.