The Badgers pulled off their eighth sweep of the season on Friday night in front of a 7,540 person crowd at the Wisconsin Field House. The fans’ excitement was contagious as Wisconsin’s volleyball team defeated their conference rivals 25-17, 25-22, 25-17.
Freshman outside hitter Julia Orzol was the star of the night, recording a career-high 17 kills and four assists. With 10 digs, she also earned her second double-double of the season.
"Playing in that Field House, I can't compare it to anything I experienced before,” said Orzol. “You can't find any better place to play and get energy than from the Badger community."
Fifth year senior Dana Rettke and graduate student Grace Loberg also had kills in the double digits, with 13 and 11 respectively. As a team, Wisconsin hit 0.372 (52-kills, 10-errors, 113-attempts) and held the Gophers to just 0.198 (38-14-121).
Wisconsin led the entire first set and started off hot with a 3-0 lead. The team scored five points off of service aces in that first set, including an aggressive set-point winning serve from junior defensive specialist Joslyn Boyer.
The second set was more competitive, and was tied at 10-10, 11-11 and 12-12 before a string of serves by Junior defensive specialist Anna McDonald helped the Badgers pull ahead.
The end of the second set was nerve racking on both sides of the court. The set-winning point for the Badgers was challenged and overturned twice by Minnesota head coach Hugh McCutcheon.
First, at 24-17, a kill by Orzol was overturned as an attacking error. The second incident occurred at 24-21, when a service error by the Gophers was overturned to be a service ace. The Badgers finally won set-point with a kill from Rettke.
Despite four of the Badger’s five service errors coming in the third set, the team was able to establish dominance in the set from the get go. The match-point was secured by the two power-house outside hitters with a gnarly serve from Orzol followed by a kill by Loberg.
"I thought our left sides did a really good job tonight,” commented head coach Kelly Sheffield. “Julia and Grace were just playing smart, working the court and getting the ball into good areas. They were smart with their shots, which was a big difference from last week.”
On the defensive end, the Badgers out-blocked the Gophers 4-3, and had 59 digs to the Gophers 42. Three of those blocks came from sophomore middle blocker Devyn Robinson and 23 of the digs were saves by graduate student libero Lauren Barnes.
The next time the Badgers face the Gophers, they will be traveling across the border to Minneapolis in late November. If Minnesota wants a shot at victory the second time around they’ll have to figure out how to block Orzol and Rettke while ensuring their own powerful offense doesn’t get stuffed at the net.