The No. 1 Wisconsin Badgers defeated the Iowa Hawkeyes in a remarkable fifth straight match sweep Wednesday night in Iowa City.
The Badgers’ win continues a streak of dominance that is beyond comprehension even for a program that’s won four straight Big Ten championships. Wisconsin has now won 18 straight sets, dating back to the middle of September. They have not lost a set in Big Ten play and have won all five games to start the conference season. Their mini streak is part of a larger streak of 23 straight victories in Big Ten matches.
The Hawkeyes came out strong in front of their home fans and put the Badgers in an early 17-13 hole. Wisconsin responded with fury, notching a 6-0 run and scoring 12 of the subsequent 13 points to take a 23-18 lead. Kills from Temi Thomas-Ailara and Carter Booth secured the first set for Wisconsin in what ended up being a 25-19 victory after a difficult start.
Iowa battled in the second set, but the Badgers had less difficulty this time around. After being tied at six, Wisconsin pulled away. The Hawkeyes trailed 18-15, but that was as close as they got in the second set. Kills from Sarah Franklin and Anna Smrek sealed the set for Wisconsin with a 25-18 win.
Despite being in an 0-2 hole in the third set, the Hawkeyes did not go away quietly. They led the Badgers 16-15, putting pressure on Wisconsin once again. However, the number one team in the country was determined to leave Iowa City early. The Badgers unleashed a 10-0 run, going from trailing to securing the match with a 25-16 third set victory.
Thomas-Ailara led Wisconsin with 10 kills, followed by Franklin and Devyn Robinson with nine each. Izzy Ashburn chipped in 24 assists, while Julia Orzol added 11 digs.
Head coach Kelly Sheffield was pleased with his team’s clean performance.
"We kind of kicked it into another gear,” he said. “Our errors tonight were really low. I think we had about 9% hitting errors for the night. We were over 98% serving in… Overall, I thought we played pretty clean. Most of the points they got, they absolutely earned."
The Badgers will look to continue their undefeated start to the season when they travel to take on Illinois on Saturday night.