Wisconsin falls to No. 11 MinnesotaNovember 22, 2012
MADISON, Wis. -- The volleyball Badgers were hardly intimidated by Minnesota’s 22 wins and No. 11 ranking when the Gophers visited the UW Field House Wednesday night. Wisconsin kept every set close, but in the end, could not overcome costly errors, falling in three sets to the Gophers, 25-21, 25-20, 25-21.
“I thought our overall effort was good tonight,” head coach Pete Waite said. “We started slow in the first set but came back to tie it midway through. We were just playing in spurts at times and had a few unforced errors.”
Senior Alexis Mitchell led the Badgers with 11 kills in her final match at the Field House while junior Annemarie Hickey contributed 25 digs—just one short of the three-set match record at Wisconsin. But 16 hitting errors, including eight in the first set, put Wisconsin in a tough position all night.
In the first set, Wisconsin found itself in an early 6-1 hole before battling back to pull within one, down 9-8. But from there, Minnesota opened up a comfortable margin that proved just enough to hold off the Badgers for the rest of the set. UW never came closer than two points before dropping the first set, 25-21.
Wisconsin kept the second set close in the beginning, opening with a 3-3 tie. But a 5-0 Gopher run broke play open. Minnesota’s lead stretched as high as six points (15-9) before the Badgers were once again able to tighten the score late, trailing 23-20. The Gophers took the final two points in the set for a 25-20 win and a 2-0 lead.
The Badgers saved their best play for the third set, hitting .290 (13 kills – 4 errors – 31 attempts) as a team in a frame that was close through much of the early going. But once again, the Gophers managed to stretch a thin margin into a comfortable lead mid-way through the set, taking a 18-14 lead. On a night where Wisconsin was always only a play or two away from grabbing the upper hand, the Gophers held off the Badgers’ late runs, claiming a 25-21 win and 3-0 sweep.
In addition to Mitchell’s 11 kills, junior Julie Mikaelsen added 10 kills while leading the team in hitting at .360 (10-1-25). Courtney Thomas led UW with 36 assists while senior Mary Ording turned in four blocks on her final night in the Field House. Seniors Bailey Reshel finished with eight kills and seven digs.
“I thought Julie Mikaelsen had a great night tonight,” Waite said. “She was just really unstoppable from the left side or the right side and Annemarie Hickey put up some big numbers – 25 digs was phenomenal. We just needed more out of everybody defensively.”
As a team, Wisconsin hit .204 (39-16-113) and out-blocked the Gophers 8-6.
The Badgers struggled from the service line, recording eight errors and no aces. Wisconsin was aced five times in the match.
The Badgers now head to Purdue for the team’s final match of the season against the No. 22 Boilermakers. A win at Purdue would boost Wisconsin’s RPI and increase the UW’s NCAA tournament hopes. Match time against the Boilermakers is 6 p.m. CT.
“We have to practice on Thanksgiving and head to Purdue,” Waite said. “We have to give it a shot at Purdue. We said after the match we’re not done. We’re not done improving, we’re not done working to get that win so we’re going to keep fighting.”