The No. 1 Wisconsin Badgers returned to the UW Field House in triumphant fashion Friday night to brush aside Rutgers with a match sweep in what was perhaps Wisconsin’s most dominant performance to date.
Friday’s win improved Wisconsin’s record to 16-0, matching the start of the 2021 Badgers who went on to win the national championship. The victory also moved the Badgers set streak to a staggering 24 in a row, a streak that has held for almost a month.
Wisconsin made quick work of the Scarlet Knights. The first set was mildly competitive, with three ties in the set. However, thanks to Sarah Franklin and her eight kills, Wisconsin won the set fairly handily 25-17.
The second set featured a level of quality that was unmatched even for the nation’s best team. Wisconsin annihilated Rutgers 25-4 to tie the record for fewest points allowed in a set in program history.
The third set was not nearly as demoralizing for the Scarlet Knights, but the result was all the same with Wisconsin winning 25-17 on a game point courtesy of a Rutgers attack error. Wisconsin did not trail in this match, and the three ties in the first set were the only time they did not lead.
The Badgers won comfortably Friday despite playing without stalwarts Devyn Robinson and MJ Hammill.
Franklin led the way with 16 kills in Robinson’s absence. Anna Smrek continued her emergent season with 10 kills, and Temi Thomas-Ailara added nine.
Coach Kelly Sheffield praised the team as they continued to play well without two key players.
"I think one of things we pride ourselves in as a team is responding to whatever it is. When things don't go our way, you gotta go to plan B or C, and that's what the team is for,” Sheffield said. “It's probably not a real big deal with our team, although you're losing two really talented players and everyone did their role and did what we do."
The Badgers were successful everywhere but were particularly strong at the service line with 11 aces, four of which came from Franklin.
The Badgers will host Maryland on Sunday afternoon for their next match.