Badgers drop important game against Huskies in a sloppy performance

Badgers head coach Kelly Sheffield was disappointed in his teams sloppy performance Thursday night.

Badgers head coach Kelly Sheffield was disappointed in his teams sloppy performance Thursday night.

Image By: Grey Satterfield

The Field House was packed for No. 9 Wisconsin’s (4-3) red-out game against No. 10 Washington (8-1), but the crowd went home disappointed after the Huskies upset the Badgers three sets to one. 

The Badgers simply didn’t have an answer for Washington outside hitter Kara Bajema all night, who recorded a team high 19 kills on a .288 hitting percentage, the second highest of any player with over 15 attacks.

After Wisconsin dropped to the first set to the Huskies, the Badgers seemed to have gotten their swagger back in set two, with outside hitter/right side hitter Madison Duello’s five kills rejuvenating the team. 

At 24-20, it seemed clear the Badgers would even the match at one set a piece. Then, Bajema took over. The Huskies won seven of the next eight points to win the set 27-25, and Bajema had kills on four of those seven points, stunning the Badgers and the crowd in the process. 

Losing the second set put the Badgers in a dangerous position, and despite an admirable effort in set three, the Huskies were able to overcome a slow start in set four to close out the match.

Wisconsin head coach Kelly Sheffield was clearly frustrated with his team’s inability to close out sets. When asked if it is a threat to the team’s success going forward, Shepard was blunt. “It certainly seems to be,” he said.

“I can sit up here and say it’s not, but through three of our matches at home it certainly has been,” he said.

More concerning for Sheffield and the coaching staff, however, was sloppy play from Badgers attackers. Wisconsin committed 30 errors, 14 more than Washington, and that proved to be the difference on the night. 

It was an especially tough night for outside hitter Molly Haggerty who led the team in kills with 19, but also committed 12 hitting errors — twice as many as any other player on the court. 

“There’s no way around it. You can sugarcoat it, but this was a tough loss because of how we lost,” said Sheffield. “30 hitting errors, that’s just so uncharacteristic of this group, I didn’t have to get an advanced degree to figure out that’s gonna put us behind the 8-ball.”

However, the Badgers had more problems than just hitting errors. Their hitting percentage at .208 lagged behind the Huskies’ .276, and the Badgers were out blocked 14 to 7. Huskies middle blocker Avie Niece recorded 10 of those blocks en route to a big game. 

Wisconsin will have their chance at revenge this Saturday when the Badgers take on Washington in Seattle, a must win matchup for a Badgers team that has struggled at home so far. 

“It’s time to get ours on Saturday,” senior Libero and Defensive Specialist Sarah Dodd said.

Something must change if Wisconsin is to get the job down in Seattle, and Sheffield is determined to put his team in the best position to win. 

“We’ll watch some film, we’ll make some adjustments, I’m sure they’ll make some adjustments, it’s time for the coaches to earn our money a little bit by figuring out what we’re going to do,” he said. 

Saturday’s game against Washington is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. central time. 

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