No. 6 Badgers rally to beat No. 7 Illinois
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The University of Wisconsin volleyball team was in trouble.
After losing the first set to Illinois Wednesday night, the Badgers found themselves down 14-7 in the second set. Then the No. 6 Badgers got untracked and went on a 13-3 run that helped carry them to a 21-25, 25-21, 25-23, 25-18 victory over the No. 7 Fighting Illini.
Sophomore middle blocker Dana Rettke put away a career-high 23 kills, hitting .556, to lead the way for UW (11-2, 4-1 Big Ten). Redshirt junior Madison Duello added 12 kills (.440) and senior Tionna Williams chipped in with eight (.667).
“We struggled a little in the beginning with passing but that got better as the match went on,” Rettke said. “Syd (Hilley) was giving me great balls. She was doing a fantastic job. I’ve just been really working harder in transition and I think that’s helped a lot.”
While Rettke enjoyed a career night, she credited backup defensive specialist Sarah Dodd with providing the turning point for the Badgers by serving four straight points to trigger the rally in the second set.
“She put in some really good balls and I think it kind of snowballed the rest of the game for us,” Rettke said.
Coach Kelly Sheffield seconded that analysis.
“Sarah gave us a big lift in the second, coming in there and getting us on a serving run,” he said. “I thought that was really key, putting in some real tough serves. It uplifted everybody.”
Sheffield also said his team’s passing, after getting off to a rough start, was on point from the middle of the second set on.
“I thought our passing steadied, got a lot better and we were in our offense an awful lot,” he said. Sheffield singled out the play of junior M.E. Dodge, who struggled early and was replaced at libero by Tiffany Clark after the first set. But she responded with a strong performance the rest of the night.
“It showed an awful lot of maturity and an awful lot of toughness for her to steady out after that first set,” Sheffield said. “Her passing numbers were fantastic the last three sets.”
Illinois (14-2, 3-2) was led by Jacqueline Quade with 18 kills.