The Wisconsin Badgers won their 10th consecutive match against the Nebraska Cornhuskers, in four sets on Friday night. Earlier in the season, the Badgers took the Cornhuskers down in three sets at the UW Field House.
Wisconsin dominated the first set with a total of 16 kills and only two errors giving them a match-high .400 hitting percentage.
The Badgers led the first set with back-to-back kills, two from Deyvn Robinson and two from Danielle Hart, to take an early 4-0 lead. Wisconsin held the lead the entire set, eventually making the score 22-13.
Nebraska went on a five point run to bring them within four points, but the Badgers went on to win the first set 25-21. A Cornhuskers service error gave the Badgers set-point and then a final kill by Sarah Franklin helped them take the first set.
In the second set, Wisconsin’s hitting percentage dropped to .132 while Nebraska stayed consistent at around .250.
The second set had nine lead changes and 15 ties. The second went back-and-forth until the Cornhuskers took a 21-18 lead when they went on a four point streak. Three of those points were attack errors by Wisconsin and then a service ace by Lexi Rodriguez.
Nebraska went on to win the second set 25-21 — the match now knotted at one.
The third set was a nail biter. The biggest lead between either team was two points, until a kill from Anna Smrek put Wisconsin up 22-19. The Cornhuskers rallied back with two points of their own, before the Badgers won the final three points.
A Nebraska service error, a Wisconsin kill by Julia Orzol and then a Badger block gave Wisconsin the third set 25-21.
Nebraska’s hitting percentage dropped to .063 in the fourth set, as they managed only 13 kills with 10 errors.
The fourth set stayed close and was tied at eight, until Wisconsin’s six point run gave them the 14-8 lead. Wisconsin continued to control the set, and extended their lead 19-11.
The Cornhuskers fought, but the Badgers ultimately took the set 25-19.
Robinson had the match-high 16 kills, followed by Franklin with 12 kills. The Badgers also dominated behind the line, finishing 3-1 in service aces.
Wisconsin improved to 10-3 against top 25 opponents. With this win, the Badgers took the Big Ten title outright, and brought their total conference championship titles to nine — the second-most among all Big Ten teams.
The third-ranked Wisconsin team (24-3, 18-1 Big Ten) continued their away series by traveling to Columbus on Saturday to face No. 8 Ohio State (19-8, 15-4 Big Ten).
In the first set, Ohio State recorded an impressive 17 kills, while Wisconsin only managed 11 put-aways, but the significant difference in hitting percentage came from errors. Ohio State had 11 errors and Wisconsin only had two.
Wisconsin won a tight first set, 25-22. The game included 12 ties and six lead changes. The Badgers powered ahead late in the set to take a 19-16 lead, the biggest lead of the set. A kill by Caroline Crawford began the Badgers’ run, which was followed by an Ohio State attack error, then a kill by Anna Smrek and a service ace from Crawford to finish off their four point run.
Ohio State brought the score to 19-18 and then the teams proceeded to switch off every point, until the Badgers managed to get two points to make the score 24-21. Two points later, Anna Smrek put away the kill to give Wisconsin the first set.
Ohio State struggled in the following set with more errors than kills, 12 to 11, respectively. This made their hitting percentage negative .03. On the other hand, Wisconsin had the match-high .385 hitting percentage with 11 kills and only one error from 26 attempts.
A kill from Robinson and then four Buckeye attack errors gave the Badgers an early 5-0 lead, forcing Ohio State to take a timeout.
Wisconsin setter MJ Hammill put up two consecutive service aces to make the score 10-3. She also led her team with a match total of three aces.
The Badgers extended their lead to eight, 20-12. Ohio State managed to get a few more points before Wisconsin put the set away, 25-17.
The Buckeyes recorded their highest hitting percentage (.233) in the third set, while Wisconsin recorded their lowest (.186).
Ohio State came out strong with an 8-4 lead, which included two team service aces. Wisconsin managed to get the score within one point but was never able to tie.
The Buckeyes scored nine of 11 points towards the end of the set, which made the score 22-14. They ended up going on to win the third set 25-19.
Heading into the fourth set, Wisconsin led 2-1. They controlled the game in the beginning, starting with a 9-3 lead, however, Ohio State kept the match close.
Wisconsin led 17-16 before going on a four point run. Crawford managed her second service ace of the match and was backed up by a kill from Orzol followed by another from Smrek.
Anna Smrek recorded 11 kills, right behind Sarah Franklin’s 12. Smrek also led both teams with eight blocks. This propelled the Badgers to out-block the Buckeyes 15-5 in the match.
Ohio State had a run of their own, which put them ahead 25-24. Wisconsin grabbed the final three points with a kill by Hart and two attack errors. They took the fourth set 27-25 and won the match 3-1.
The Badgers’ valuable players in this match were Gulce Guctekin, Izzy Ashburn and Sarah Franklin. Guctekin led her team with a career-high 28 digs, while Ashburn’s one service ace ties her for third on the UW career record list with 154 service aces. Redshirt sophomore Franklin, with 12 kills and 13 digs, picked up her fifth double-double of the season.
Wisconsin extended their win streak to 18 matches, which ties for second on the UW match-winning streak record list. They also finished the season 19-1 in the conference, tying the best conference record in program history, along with 1997, 2001 and 2014.
“19-1 in this league is what this group just did. I just told them I was more proud of them for tonight's win more so than last night's win. To be able to win over a team that defends as well as Ohio State does is just incredible,” said Wisconsin coach Kelly Sheffield after the match.
The Badgers improved to 11-3 against top-25 teams this season, the most wins over ranked opponents by any team in the nation.
Wisconsin will head into the playoffs as a favorable top-seed team. We will find out specific details about the 2022 NCAA Women’s Volleyball Tournament during the NCAA selection show on Sunday, Nov. 27 at 6:30 p.m.