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Friday, January 21, 2022

No. 4 Badgers clinch Big Ten title before heading into the NCAA Championship tournament

The regular season has ended for the No. 4 ranked Wisconsin Badgers (25-3) and they are onto the NCAA Championship tournament. The Badgers start off the tournament this Friday at the UW Field House against the Colgate University Raiders (18-9). A win for the Badgers guarantees them a game on Saturday night. 

The Badgers completed their final weekend of the regular season with a double win at home against No. 10 Nebraska and Indiana. Wisconsin claimed their third-straight Big Ten title following their win against Nebraska on Friday night. The Badgers took down the Cornhuskers in four sets, 14-25, 25-23, 26-24, 25-18. Despite the first set loss, Wisconsin was able to leave it behind to fiercely win the next three. 

"Winning three in-a-row is a pretty hard thing to do,” Setter and fifth-year senior Sydney Hilley said following the win. “It takes a lot of work behind the scenes. I'm just really proud of the way this team took each single day of practice. They put in the work so we could have a chance to win it”. 

The Badgers swept the Indiana Hooisers in just 70 minutes on Saturday night. This was their fastest match of the season. Wisconsin conquered Indiana 25-14, 25-9, 25-15 for their 15th and final sweep of the regular season. 

Saturday night’s game against Indiana was Senior Night for the Badgers, arguably one of the most bittersweet in Badgers history. Wisconsin is losing some of their top players after this season, many of which have been in the program for five seasons. The Badgers honored Lauren Barnes, Giorgia Civita, Sydney Hilley, Grace Loberg, Dana Rettke and Julia Wohlert after the sweep against Indiana. Among these six players are countless awards and school records, and their impact on Wisconsin will never be forgotten. 

The regular season is now over and it is time for tournament play for the Badgers. This is their ninth-straight NCAA tournament appearance. The tournament means even more this year for the five seniors who got to the Championship game in 2019, but fell to Stanford in three sets. 

The Badgers were chosen as the No. 4 seed for the tournament, a spot higher than the previous week’s ranking. For the first round of tournament play, the Badgers will face Colgate University. Wisconsin last faced Colgate in 2013 and 2015, both of which were sweeps for the Badgers.

Colgate is led by two captains. Julia Kurowski, a senior setter, and graduate student outside-hitter Alli Lowe. This season, Colgate won their first Partiot League conference title since 2012. Sophomore Libby Overmyer leads the Raiders in kills with 305 this season. On the defensive end, junior Cami Carfino leads the team in digs with 241. Senior Julia Kurowski follows closely behind with 223 digs, while also leading the team in assists with 868. Kurowski was named conference tournament MVP and Patriot League's Setter of the Year for the second consecutive season. 

The Badgers begin the NCAA Championship tournament on Friday, Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. at the UW Field House against Colgate. In the case of a win, Wisconsin will face either Florida Gulf Coast University of Texas Tech on Saturday, Dec. 4 at 6 p.m., also at the UW Field House.

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