No. 1 Wisconsin defeated Ohio State in a match sweep Wednesday night, continuing their multiple streaks and maintaining their undefeated record.
With a showdown against No. 2 Nebraska looming on Saturday, Wisconsin’s matchup with Ohio State Wednesday night would normally be labeled a “trap game,” where the team could lose the easier of a two-game stretch.
That looked to be the case early in the match as the Buckeyes raced out to a 6-1 lead, forcing an early timeout from head coach Kelly Sheffield. The Badgers clawed back to tie the game at seven and eventually wrestle back a 9-8 lead.
The two teams went back and forth in what was Wisconsin’s most competitive set in quite a few matches. Leading 24-22, the Badgers escaped with a first set victory after an Ohio State attack error.
It was smoother sailing in the second set. Wisconsin led 10-8 before unleashing an 8-0 run to take a commanding 18-8 advantage. The Buckeyes didn’t have much left in the tank as the Badgers cruised to a 25-15 victory.
After an initial struggle, Wisconsin took a 6-5 lead before breaking away for good in the final set. The Badgers went on to win 25-18 courtesy of a kill from Temi Thomas-Ailara.
Wisconsin, who was again without Devyn Robinson and MJ Hammill, saw recurring commanders Sarah Franklin and Thomas-Ailara step up with 16 and 11 kills, respectively. Izzy Ashburn added 37 assists and four aces.
Wisconsin is now 18-0 on the season with 30 consecutive set wins and 27 consecutive match wins in the Big Ten.
That marker will be put to the test Saturday when the Badgers will play the match of the season against Nebraska in Lincoln. The Cornhuskers are also 18-0 and were the team the Badgers defeated to win the 2021 National Championship.
“It’s a great team that is playing well together,” Sheffield said about the matchup. “Their hitting percentage is higher than what it’s been in a long time but still the same defense that you come to expect. It should be a fun match.”
The top national teams serve off at 7 p.m. in Lincoln. The winner will come out in undisputed control over the Big Ten, continue their undefeated start to the season and secure the national No. 1 ranking.