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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Monday, December 11, 2023

Badgers return home to face aggressive pair of Big Ten foes

After opening the Big Ten season 1-1, the No. 8 Badgers volleyball team returns home to face No. 12 Penn State and Illinois.

After their first two conference matches, the Badger women are back at the UW Fieldhouse to face their next two Big Ten opponents. No. 8 Wisconsin (7-3) will face the No. 12 Penn State Nittany Lions (12-1) on Friday and the Illinois Fighting Illini (7-5) on Sunday. 

Wisconsin is 1-1 in Big Ten play. Penn State is also 1-1, while Illinois stands at 2-0. This is the first time the Badgers have faced Penn State and Illinois in the regular season. The Badgers will face them both again later in the season before the postseason begins. 

Wisconsin took down Northwestern last Friday in three quick sets — 25-18, 25-19 and 25-22. On Sunday, they faced Minnesota and were on the receiving end of a sweep — 21-25, 16-25 and 27-29.

The Badgers hit over .200 in both their matches this past weekend to Northwestern and Minnesota. Against the Wildcats, the Badger nearly hit .300. 

Friday’s opponent, Penn State, has some heavy hitters. Leading their team in kills is outside hitter Kashuana Williams, who has 120 kills this season and averages 2.93 kills per set. Following in kills is sophomore Anjelina Starck, with 117 kills and an average of 2.54 kills per set. Leading in digs is Maddy Bilinovoc with 178 this season and 3.87 per set. Penn State’s hitting efficiency will make for a tough matchup.

On Sunday, the Badgers will face an unranked yet talented Illinois team. Junior Raina Terry leads with 163 kills, and trailing behind her is senior outside hitter Jessica Nunge with 113. Terry is averaging 3.70 kills per set while Nunge averages 3.05. Setter Diana Brown has a total of an impressive 446 assists so far this season averaging 10.14 assists per set. Illinois’ talent may catch the Badgers off guard.

Sophomore Sarah Franklin leads the Badgers with 115 kills and behind her is outside hitter-Julia Orzol with 96. Senior setter Izzy Ashburn already has over 200 assists this season, and her freshman teammate Gulce Guctekin has 130 digs. Despite a loss in each of the last two weekends, the Badgers don’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. 

The Badgers will meet the Penn State Nittany Lions on Friday at 8 p.m. and will follow with a match on Sunday against Illinois at 1 p.m. Both matches will be at the UW Field House. 

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