In a matchup of two NCAA volleyball titans, the No. 1 Wisconsin Badgers fell 3-2 to the No. 2 Nebraska Cornhuskers in their first loss this season.
The Badgers entered Devaney Arena on Saturday night with a streak of 30 straight set wins, 26 straight Big Ten wins and 18 match wins to start this season.
However, the Badgers came up short of extending their streak late in the fifth set. The Badgers and Cornhuskers were tied 14-14, but the match point was overturned due to a net violation, handing Nebraska the victory. Their win snapped a 10-game losing streak against the Badgers that included the 2021 National Championship match.
Wisconsin got off to a rough start and found themselves trailing 9-4 early in the first set after a 6-0 run from the Cornhuskers. The Badgers managed to close the gap to 22-20 but failed to muster a comeback as Nebraska took the first set, 25-22. The Badgers’ loss snapped their month-long set-winning streak.
The Badgers bounced back and controlled most of the second set, including a 5-0 run to open up a 19-10 lead. The Cornhuskers didn’t really threaten in the second set, and Wisconsin secured a fairly comfortable 25-17 victory.
The Badgers kept up their momentum in the third set and won 25-20 after leading the entire set, giving them two chances to win the match heading into the fourth set.
The Cornhuskers were up for the challenge and led most of the set, but Wisconsin went on a late 7-1 run to take a 21-18 lead. The set eventually tied at 23 before a Temi Thomas-Ailara kill set up match point for the Badgers.
However, Nebraska collected three straight points to extend the Badgers’ stay in Lincoln for a fifth and final set.
Wisconsin led for most of the fifth set but never gained a significant lead. Then, the Cornhuskers pounced. Hungry to end a long losing streak to the Badgers, Nebraska unleashed a 4-0 run to take a 14-12 lead.
A kill from Sarah Franklin kept the Badgers alive and made the score 14-13. It then appeared the Badgers had tied the set at 14, but a challenge from Nebraska overturned the point because of a net violation, handing Wisconsin their first loss of the season.
The Badgers got Devyn Robinson and MJ Hammill back from injury in the loss. Robinson tied for second on the team in kills alongside Thomas-Ailara with 10, while Franklin led with 17. The Badgers, who did not record a service ace for the first time all year, now drop to second in the Big Ten and will assuredly lose their No. 1 national ranking to the Cornhuskers.
The Badgers will get their chance at redemption when Nebraska travels to the UW Field House on November 24th. For the time being, the Badgers will head out to East Lansing to take on Michigan State on Friday.