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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Thursday, February 29, 2024

In the second matchup of the NCAA First Rounds, Wisconsin dominated the court with 3-0 sweep

Wisconsin volleyball advances to Sweet 16 in NCAA Tournament

The Badgers dispatched Jackson State and Miami on their way to another Sweet 16 appearance.

The Wisconsin Badgers volleyball team survived and advanced the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament with victories over Jackson State and Miami, both ending in match sweeps.

Wisconsin entered the tournament as one of four No. 1 overall seeds and earned the right to host their tournament games through the Regional Final. The Badgers took advantage of the UW Field House, defeating Jackson State and Miami in front of raucous crowds. 

They began their quest for their second national championship in three years with Jackson State, who wasn’t able to mount any sort of upset for the ages. Wisconsin made quick work of the Tigers, winning 25-18, 25-9 and 25-18. Sarah Franklin and Anna Smrek powered the Badgers’ attack, posting 21 and 17 kills respectively. 

The Badgers, fresh off a victory in the Round of 64, welcomed the Miami Hurricanes back to Madison for a rematch of a game earlier in the season. Wisconsin swept the Hurricanes back in September, but the first set made the game feel like a distant memory. The Canes jumped out to a 14-9 lead, creating an early angst in the Field House. 

They still maintained a 21-19 lead, but Wisconsin used a late run to wrestle the lead back and won it for good with a Franklin kill. Miami continued to give Wisconsin issues as the second set was tied at 13. Wisconsin used two big runs to take the lead for good, with a 23-14 advantage for the Badgers. The Canes ran out of gas after two competitive sets, and the Badgers won 25-17 to get out of the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament without losing a set. 

Smrek and Franklin once again led the Badgers’ attack with 15 and 13 kills, respectively, and Gulce Guctekin added 16 digs. Head coach Kelly Sheffield was particularly pleased with Guctekin’s performance, saying afterward it was her best performance as a Badger. 

Next up for the Badgers is a return to the Sweet 16 against Penn State on Thursday in Madison. The Badgers have a history with the Nittany Lions. Penn State delivered one of Wisconsin’s three losses this season, and the two also met in the Sweet 16 last year, which Wisconsin won. 

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