No. 1 Wisconsin (2-0) pulled off a second three-set win Saturday night against No. 13 Purdue in the Fieldhouse tonight, but the match wasn’t as frictionless as the night prior. The Badgers came out of the gates with high energy on and off the bench after last night's win against Purdue. Hoping for a repeat performance, the Badgers were able to beat the Boilermakers in three sets, but with more difficulty.
“We gave away too many points tonight,” Head Coach Kelly Sheffield said, citing offensive errors as the largest contributor. “But, overall, we did a lot of positive things.”
Service errors lost the Badgers nine points on the night, but the team maintained higher hitting percentages in each set, ultimately coming out of every set on top.
The Badgers attempted to utilize the adjusted schedule to make some deliberate changes tonight in their second match against Purdue, facing the Big Ten’s new back-to-back scheduling. The team was focused on building off of the previous night and working on some of the things they had struggled with.
“We wanted to block a lot better,” Sheffield said. “And [setter Sydney Hilley] went to different areas of the courts than she was last night with her setting, so we were attacking some different areas. Those were probably our two biggest emphases and those were things we did a lot better job of.”
The Badgers had 10 team blocks, while the Boilermakers had just one. Much of this effort was contributed by middle back Dana Rettke, who put up four blocks in the first set and seven blocks total. Saturday marked Rettke’s 500th career block as a Badger.
“I think we made good adjustments and our block was definitely set up in better positions today,” Rettke said. “I was pretty proud of how that came out.”
Finishing the match with a .414 hitting average, Rettke also contributed significantly in kills.
While successful in the areas they intended, the Badgers did not beat Purdue with as much ease tonight. The Badgers won the first set 25-18, not letting go of the lead once, and finishing the set with a .455 hitting percentage to the Boilermaker’s .100.
However, Purdue came out strong in the second set, and took the lead early on. Ultimately, the Badgers were able to make the adjustments necessary to win that set.
Down 18-20, two kills from Rettke and one from outside hitter Grace Loberg put the Badgers in the lead. The Boilermakers couldn’t recover, and the Badgers took the set 25-21.
“I thought we did a really good job of battling back in the second set,” Sheffield said. “We were down quite a bit and I thought we showed some fighting spirit and cleaned up our game a little bit, and I thought that was really big.”
Wisconsin maintained a lead throughout the third set, pulling off a second three-set win against Purdue, despite minor setbacks in the matchup.
“I do like how we stayed in the fight,” Hilley said. “We were down in the second set and I loved our fighting mentality there. That will be something that we’ll have in every single match we play.”
The adjusted schedule isn’t the only major change to this season, as very few spectators are allowed in the Fieldhouse to watch the matches. The Badgers were able to compensate for the nearly empty Fieldhouse tonight, building energy off the court with dancing and cheering.
“When it gets intense and we’re down a little bit and the pressure’s on, I think that's when we thrive and those are the moments we look forward to and we just believe in each other,” Hilley said. “we go out and we do what we can do. I loved how we did that tonight. We just stayed together and played for free.”
The Badgers play next against Illinois (2-0) in Urbana-Champaign on Jan. 4 at 4 p.m.