After a big sweep against No. 7 Minnesota on Friday night, the No. 5 Wisconsin women’s volleyball team headed down to Urbana-Champaign (11-4) on Sunday afternoon where they took down the Illinois fighting Illini in four sets. The Badgers are now 11-1 overall and 3-1 in the Big 10 Conference.
Wisconsin only dropped the first set against Illinois, having lost 22-25. They then came back to win the next three, 25-20, 25-20 and 25-17.
The Badgers hit only .158 in the first set, but went on to improve each set hitting .209 in the second set, .333 in the third and .486 in the last. In the end, the Badgers hit .289 overall. Four Badgers hit at least 10 kills in the match, which led them to out-hit the Fighting Illini, who only hit .197.
Freshman Julia Orzol led the team in kills, an impressive 16. Orzol had a career high of 17 kills just two nights before against Minnesota; sophomore Devyn Robinson followed with 14. Robinson led the team in hitting percentage, having hit .440, while also recording three blocks.
Wisconsin also led Illinois in digs 66-50, 26 of those being from fifth-year senior Lauren Barnes, who was just two digs shy of her career high. Fifth-year senior Sydney Hilley followed with 10 digs. In addition, Hilley recorded 54 assists which led her to her 40th career double-double and third of the season.
Junior Izzy Ashburn recorded three of the four aces for the Badgers and no service errors. Service errors have been a weak point for the Badgers this season, however, they kept the service errors to only six against Illinois.
Coach Kelly Sheffield expressed he was impressed with how his team played, despite dropping the first set.
Mental toughness seems to be a strong theme for the Badgers this year. Fifth-year senior Grace Loberg expressed her pride in her team and how much they have grown and learned together thus far in the season.
“I'm pretty fired up now,” Loberg exclaimed. “I learned something about my team today, just digging in deeper. We talked about this going into the match that we were going to see how mentally tough we were going into the locker room. This is a tough place to play. How they serve and how they block got to us early on. We dug in there and stayed with it.”
The Badgers will play the Iowa Hawkeyes on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the UW Field House.