After a heart-breaking five-set loss to Ohio State (6-8 Big Ten, 13-12 overall) on Friday, the No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers (7-7 Big Ten, 16-7 overall) were able to once again pull even in Big Ten play by beating University of Maryland (5-9 Big Ten, 16-10 overall) on Saturday 3-1.
This weekend, Wisconsin was tasked with having to quickly recover from a match, having back-to-back games for the first time in a while. Wisconsin had a rollercoaster of a match on Friday, then had to get into the right mindset to play Maryland on Saturday.
The Badgers dominated the first set of the Maryland game, winning 25-13. Wisconsin’s hitting percentage was .433, almost tripling Maryland’s .147, making the first set appear to be a likely indicator for a blowout. Most of the season, however, the Badgers have been able to make a statement the first set but appear to lose steam as the second and third come around.
After the shut-down performance Wisconsin had in the first set, Maryland responded with a 25-21 victory in the second. Although the score ended by being only four points apart, for most of the game Maryland held a consistent lead over the Badgers.
“When we went down there, the first thing I said was, ‘this is our chance to win extra sets and comeback, and a chance to respond after we didn’t play as well as we wanted to,’” Sydney Hilley said.
Luckily for UW, after Hilley’s pep-talk the Badgers responded and won the next two sets with dominating scores of 25-14 and 25-13. A night of comebacks and turnarounds is what can accurately describe Saturday night in the UW fieldhouse for Wisconsin. Not only the team, but individual players felt that last night’s game gave them their own comeback opportunity.
“I mean, when you say possessed, I feel like I’m not myself. But, tonight I felt like myself,” senior outside hitter Lauryn Gillis explained. “So, I feel like I have been possessed this whole season, and tonight was just me being me. I’ve told the team I’ve felt this coming and certainly I will keep this going.”
With leading the team with 19 kills, the clouds that once hung over Gillis head were seemingly gone. “I think it was nice to have the next battle the next night just to get that bad taste out of our mouths,” Gillis said. “Today we came into the gym, energy up, ready to go, ready for tonight’s match. We weren’t letting last night affect tonight.”
After splitting their weekend at home, the Badgers head to Indiana to play the University of Indiana (1-13 Big Ten, 12-14 overall) on Friday and No. 17 Purdue (7-6 Big Ten, 17-7 overall) on Saturday.