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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Photo of volleyball team holding Big Ten conference champions plaque.

Badgers end regular season undefeated with sweep against Michigan

After winning their second straight Big Ten conference title, the Badgers swept the Wolverines to finish their season undefeated. 

No. 1 Wisconsin (15-0) beat Michigan (3-11) Friday afternoon (25-20, 25-14, 25-18) in their last match of the regular season before heading into the NCAA tournament. 

The Badgers dominated the Wolverines in the second and third sets. In the second set Wisconsin had a hitting percentage of .333 to Michigan State’s .108. The Badgers also put away six service aces and four blocks in that set. 

“I thought we were really balanced this afternoon and I love the effort,” head coach Kelly Sheffield said. “I just thought our effort was fantastic. I thought we defended well, we defended hard. I actually thought our defense got better as the sets went on.”

The third set saw another four blocks, and the Badgers had a hitting percentage of .327 to Michigan State’s .157.

Middle blocker Dana Rettke and outside hitter Grace Loberg both put away 11 kills for the Badgers, finishing the match with .455 and .423 hitting percentages respectively. 

“All in all, I just feel like our team had good rhythm, which allowed for each of us individually to be able to play some of our best volleyball," Loberg said.

Loberg contributed five service aces for the Badgers, a career high. 

“For my serving, I was just going back there and just really focusing on getting good hand contact because when that happens, good things usually happen,” Loberg said. 

The Badgers got off to a slower start, finishing the first set with a hitting percentage of .282 and putting away just one block. 

"One of the goals this weekend, not only just trying to close out a Big Ten title and get some wins, but to get better as each match went on,” head coach Kelly Sheffield said. “That was an emphasis as the sets went on, as the match went on and I certainly thought we did that.”

The Badgers finished their pristine season with yet another sweep, proving that the only thing that stands in their way is COVID-19. With a modified schedule, the Badgers were set to play 22 matches against the 11 Big Ten teams. However, due to safety concerns surrounding COVID-19 both within and outside of the Badger program, 9 total games were cancelled this season. 

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Wisconsin was able to play both matches in their series for the first time in over a month this week against Michigan.

"We're just hoping to play so the fact that we were able to play two matches feels like an accomplishment right there,” Sheffield said. “You want to try to get some rhythm going into the tournament. I'm really happy and proud of the way the team played this week."

The final regular season match also marked Sheffield's 200th win as the Wisconsin coach. 

The Badgers will move on to the first round of the NCAA championships and play on April 15. 

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