The No. 2 Wisconsin Badgers continued their Big Ten domination Sunday afternoon, taking care of the Minnesota Golden Gophers in a sweep at the UW Field House.
The Badgers welcomed the Golden Gophers in a highly anticipated matchup broadcasted live on Fox Sports. The Badgers put on a show for the national audience, sweeping Minnesota as they have done against every Big Ten opponent except Nebraska.
Head coach Kelly Sheffield was heartened to see his team play in front of a bigger TV audience.
"There's a little bit of something extra when you're trying to grow the game, grow the sport and get more eyeballs on it,” Sheffield said. “With the way that they played upstairs today, I don't know how you can watch that match and see the effort that both teams gave defensively and the work, and the athleticism, and the strength and the environment itself and not say, 'Man, I probably need to tune in a little bit more to this sport.'"
The Badgers got off to a fast start, opening up to an early 18-11 lead. Wisconsin then tacked on a 4-0 run to dig the Gophers into an even deeper hole. The Badgers won the first set comfortably by a score of 25-13.
The last three points in the first set were recorded by Sarah Franklin and Temi Thomas-Ailara, who were both crucial for the Badgers once again. Franklin was clinical with 21 kills and a hitting percentage of .455, while Thomas-Ailara chipped in with eight kills.
The Badgers found life more difficult in the second set as the Gophers were not deterred by their lackluster performance in the first set. The teams were locked at 10 points apiece, and the Badgers led 17-14 later in the set. Minnesota wouldn’t be able to get closer than three as the Badgers won the second set 25-20, finishing the set with kills from Franklin and Thomas-Ailara.
The Badgers did not trail once in the third set and sent their rivals home early. While Minnesota hung around for most of the set, the Badgers won 25-19 and secured their 20th win of the season.
The win secured the Badgers 10th straight season of winning 20 or more games, excluding the 2021 season altered by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Badgers have now swept both matches following their heartbreaking loss to Nebraska.
Wisconsin will host the No. 19 Purdue Boilermakers, a team with a 14-7 record, at the UW Field House Wednesday.