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Wisconsin seeks revenge

first_imgAny match against Minnesota is big, but Wednesday’s will be just a little more special for the University of Wisconsin volleyball team.In this year’s previous match-up, No. 12 Minnesota (19-7 overall, 13-3 Big Ten) swept No. 10 Wisconsin (21-5, 13-3) 3-0. For the Badgers, it’s been a long wait to get some revenge.”We’ve been waiting awhile,” UW head coach Pete Waite said in his press conference Monday. “Obviously we weren’t too happy with the results up in Minnesota and since then I think we’ve responded with some high-level play. We’ve changed as a team.””We’ve been working really hard since that match,” senior assistant captain and middle blocker Amy Bladow added.Since the October 18 loss at Minnesota, Wisconsin has not lost a single match, winning seven straight games.And to give the match a little more zeal, it will serve as the deciding factor for sole possession of second place in the Big Ten as Minnesota and Wisconsin currently stand at 13-3 in conference play, just one game behind first-place Penn State at 14-2.”This is huge, a border rivalry,” Waite said. “We always go back and forth with Minnesota and now the Big Ten race is still in play here. We’re excited about it.”As if Wisconsin’s players needed any more motivation heading into today’s match, volunteer assistant coach Dave Bayer busted out a brand new shirt in practice Tuesday to rile up his team.Bayer wore a sweatshirt throughout most of practice, but when it was time to scrimmage, he revealed a maroon and gold Golden Gophers shirt underneath.”It was a little extra motivation,” Bladow said of the shirt. “It got everyone pumped up.””It still has the new fold lines and tags on it,” senior captain and setter Katie Lorenzen added. “But he’s going to throw it away right after practice.”During Wisconsin’s current seven-match winning streak, the team has been playing so well that when it lost two games to Northwestern and one to Illinois, it came as somewhat of a shock to many after sweeping just about everyone in the conference before then.While Waite attributes the slipup to fatigue, he knows his team will be ready to play Wednesday.”I compare this to the Penn State matches,” he said. “It’s that big and the opponent is that big that you don’t have to do much to get the team up for a match like this.”[When] you have an opponent like Minnesota coming into town … that just erases everything. They’re not going to be tired, they’re going to be excited.”While Wisconsin outranks Minnesota in nearly every category, the Gophers hold an advantage in serving and passing.Senior libero Malama Peniata leads the Big Ten in digs per game, averaging 5.38 and sophomore setter Rachel Hartmann is right behind Wisconsin’s Jackie Simpson in assists per game with 12.97.But while the Gophers may hold a slight advantage in service aces per game, the Badgers now know they can rely on Bladow to serve it up.For the first time this season, the middle blocker was called upon to go back and serve against Illinois last Saturday, and she delivered. Bladow served eight times without an error and one ace. It was her first time serving since September 30 of last year.”Before the match, I said, ‘Amy, are you ready to go and serve today, how are you going to do?'” Waite said. “She said, ‘I’ll get 10 aces.’ I said, ‘Alright, just get it in and we’ll see from there.’ And she did.”[It was] pretty phenomenal because she’s not been that consistent in the past as a server, but we need to have that option to have [her serve].”last_img read more