The No. 2 Wisconsin Badgers swept the Illinois Fighting Illini in a dominant effort Saturday night at the UW Field House, continuing their overwhelming success in the Big Ten.
The Badgers put together perhaps their best game of the season on Saturday as the Fighting Illini didn’t put up much of a fight. Wisconsin got to work right away in the first set, opening with an early 8-2 lead. Wisconsin stretched the lead to as large as 17-7 and went on to win the first set 25-13.
Illinois was much more competitive in the second set, holding a 3-1 lead before eventually being tied at nine points apiece. Wisconsin then unleashed a 10-0 run, quickly putting the set out of reach with a 19-9 lead. Illinois made a minor dent in the lead to trail 20-13, but the Badgers went on a 5-0 run ending with two kills from Devyn Robinson to take the second set. Robinson was on another level for the Badgers in the match, posting a team-high 13 kills.
After a couple massive scoring runs in the second set, Wisconsin used one more to close out the third set. Leading 17-12, Wisconsin went on an 8-0 run that ended with a service ace from MJ Hammill to give Wisconsin a match and season sweep over Illinois.
Alongside Robinson, Sarah Franklin and Temi Thomas-Ailara led the way with seven kills each. Izzy Ashburn added 19 assists and nine digs.
Head coach Kelly Sheffield was pleased to see a lot of contributions all across the board Saturday.
“We have a lot of players that are capable of going off on any given night, and the key is you got to be ready. You can't be getting in your head or pouting about it if you're not getting as many sets as you want,” Sheffield said. “You got to work hard, you got to be available, you got to be on time, you got to work in transition, cover your attackers, and play a complete game.”
Illinois had won six matches in a row headed into Sunday but was unable to contend with the Badgers. Wisconsin managed to hold Illinois to a .000 hitting percentage, the lowest of any opponent this season. The Badgers will embark on a four-game road trip next as they travel to Maryland on Friday, followed by a quick trip to face Penn State on Saturday.