The Badgers (20-2, 12-2) remain ranked No. 4 after taking down both Northwestern (11-14, 6-8) and Iowa (4-20, 2-12) in three sets each. This ends Wisconsin's long road trip, which started back on Oct. 27 with a sweep against Nebraska.
Wisconsin started off their weekend in Evanston, Ill. with a quick and easy match against the Northwestern Wildcats. In their first meeting against Northwestern this season, the Badgers swept the Wildcats 25-17, 25-21, 25-15.
The Badgers jumped out early against the Wildcats, going on multiple point runs which led them to lead 21-13 in the first set. Northwestern was able to fight back making the score 22-17, however a three point run from the Badgers led them to a 25-17 victory.
The second set was evenly matched until point runs from both Wisconsin and Northwestern made the game more intense. The Wildcats were once leading 19-16, but the Badgers tied it up at 19-19. A six point run allowed the Badgers to win 25-21.
The third set was a fast one with multiple playing errors from the Wildcats allowing the Badgers to push ahead. The set was 23-12 when Northwestern attempted to fight back but they came up short 25-15. Sophomore Devyn Robinson stood out for the Badgers again. The right side turned middle blocker led the team with four blocks while also hitting .563 (10-1-16). Juniors Joslyn Boyer and Izzy Ashburn both recorded one service ace each.
Coach Kelly Sheffield acknowledged Robinson’s stellar mentality and attitude on the court, “I think (Robinson) got a little bit irritated with herself and the number of errors she was making early on … That's one of the things I love about her. She comes back at you fierce.”
Next on the plate for the Badgers was the Iowa Hawkeyes. Wisconsin had faced Iowa back on Oct. 6 in Madison, which resulted in a sweep for the Badgers. This time was no different as the Badger swept the Hawkeyes 25-16, 25-13, 25-20.
The Hawkeyes never once led during the first set. The Badgers were only leading 8-7 before they pulled away from the Hawkeyes, eventually leading 19-10 with the help of kills from fifth-year seniors Grace Loberg and Dana Rettke. The first set ended in a 25-16 win for Wisconsin.
The second set was more evenly matched as the Hawkeyes led the Badgers 22-21 after a four point run, with three of those points being kills from Iowa’s Courtney Buzzerio. Yet again, Loberg and Rettke came through with kills, pushing the Badgers to a 25-23 win.
Set three started out rough for the Badgers as Iowa led 7-4. Kills from the middles Rettke and Robinson kick-started the Badgers, eventually allowing them to take the lead. Wisconsin led Iowa 18-13 before Iowa began to fight back to be within one point of the Badgers. Once again, the Badgers rained successfully with a 25-20 win.
Dana Rettke recorded 14 kills, which was her highest number of kills since the Oct. 23 game against Penn State where she recorded 24. Devyn Robinson had yet another admirable night in the middle, hitting .900 (9-0-10).
“We're excited about going home,” Coach Sheffield confessed. “We've been on the road six out of the last eight last matches. That can be a grind. We have Purdue next and we know just how good they are. I'm hoping the Field House is as loud as it has been the last couple years. We're fired up.”
The road trip is now over, as the Badgers will prepare to play three matches back at home. First up is the Purdue Boilermakers on Friday at 7 p.m., followed by the Northwestern Wildcats on Sunday at 1 p.m., both at the UW Field House.