No. 8 Badgers roll past Rutgers in straight sets
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — The preparation may have been a little unconventional but it was business as usual for the University of Wisconsin volleyball team on the court Friday.
The No. 8 Badgers, who prepped for their match against Rutgers by attending the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and touring New York City, dispatched the Scarlet Knights in straight sets 25-15, 25-18, 25-12.
The Badgers (21-6, 14-5 Big Ten) extended their streak of sets won to 15. Rutgers (6-26, 0-19) has lost 70 straight Big Ten matches since its only conference victory against Maryland in 2015. The Scarlet Knights are 1-98 since joining the Big Ten in 2014.
With the NCAA tournament just a week away, UW coach Kelly Sheffield gave his team two days off to start the week for the third straight week. And Thursday they spent as tourists.
“This wasn’t set up in a way for us to play great,” Sheffield said. “They’ve had three days off from volleyball. We got out and spent some time together for Thanksgiving and walked around the city for awhile. So there were not a lot of touches on the ball.”
Still, the Badgers managed to play with efficiency in two of the three sets, hitting .360 in the first and .417 in the third, to finish at .302 for the match. The Scarlet Knights hit just .011 for the match, the lowest percentage for any UW opponent this season.
The Badgers had a balanced offensive attack, led by senior Tionna Williams, sophomore Dana Rettke and redshirt sophomore Molly Haggerty with eight kills each, while sophomore Grace Loberg added seven.
“That’s been a point of emphasis the past couple of weeks,” Sheffield said of the balanced offense. “I feel like we’re probably a little bit better when we’re able to do that and I thought our hitters did a pretty good job.”
The Badgers had eight service aces, led by three from Haggerty. UW also had a 12-6 edge in blocks, led by seven from Rettke.
UW closes out the Big Ten season Saturday at Penn State.
Wisconsin 25 25 25
Rutgers 15 18 12
WISCONSIN (kills-digs-blocks) — Hilley 0-4-5, Williams 8-0-2, Duello 5-1-1, Rettke 8-0-7, Loberg 7-3-2, Haggerty 8-10-2, Clark 0-14-0, Hart 2-1-3, Dodd 0-0-0, Dodge 0-1-0, Bell 0-0-0, Dixon 0-0-0, Whalen 0-0-0, Shanahan 0-0-0. Totals 38-34-12.
RUTGERS (kills-digs-blocks) — McLetchie 10-3-2, Marmen 5-3-0, Kojadinovic 4-4-1, Weidt 4-2-1, Stackhouse 2-0-3, Balyko 1-9-3, Swackenberg 1-6-0, Maksimova 0-2-0, Kudryashova 0-0-0, Cieslik 0-1-0. Totals 27-30-6.
Hitting percentage — W .302, R .011. Aces — W 8 (Haggerty 3), R 0. Assists — W 35 (Hilley 33), R 26 (Balyko 22).