Volleyball falls to 1-3 in Big Ten play

first_imgThe Wisconsin volleyball team concluded its homestand with a disappointing four-set loss to No. 22 Ohio State Saturday at the UW Field House.After a three-set loss to top-ranked Penn State (4-0 Big Ten, 13-1) the night before, the Badgers could not snap their losing streak as they fell to 1-3 against Big Ten opponents.The Badgers (13-4) started off slow in the first set, finding themselves down 1-5 after head coach Pete Waite called the first timeout. The Buckeyes maintained their lead by capitalizing on Wisconsin’s attacking errors and offensive disorganization.Though Wisconsin was able to close the gap to just one point midway through the set, Ohio State never gave up the lead and went on to win the first set 25-21.The second set proved to be a challenge for the Badgers, as they put up a -.091 attacking percentage. UW also had three more errors than kills (8-5). Strong serving by Mari Hole, the 6-foot senior, and consistent setting from senior Amanda Peterson were at the forefront of Ohio State’s 25-11 victory.“First two sets were tough,” Waite said. “I think there might have been some hangover from the match last night just as far as not being in rhythm, not being confident. It took them a while to become a team again. ”In the third set, the Badgers bounced back by putting up a .316 killing percentage and only committing two errors. Wisconsin and Ohio State traded the lead throughout the set until the former pulled ahead at the halfway mark to win 25-19.The Badgers’ libero, junior Annemarie Hickey, emphasized the coming together of the team as a key factor in the third set victory.“I think we’ve showed in the past that we can start off strong,” Hickey said. “We just recently have been struggling with that, and I think it starts with everyone coming out together as a team, and I think we did that a lot better in the third set.”Though the Badgers forced a fourth set, they weren’t able to catch the Buckeyes after they jumped out to an early 7-3 lead. Hole’s strong attacks from the outside were a key factor in the early lead.Though Wisconsin rallied to close the gap to 18-21, a few late attack errors allowed the Buckeyes to pull ahead and close the fourth set with a 25-20 victory.“It came down to the end,” Waite said. “Just a few too many errors, discipline errors. There were a couple things that we had been better at in the past, but Ohio State is a good team, and I think they took advantage of those things.”Loss in Big Ten home opener makes for winless weekendBefore their loss Saturday, the Badgers first faced a tall task Friday night, literally and figuratively.Wisconsin fell to top-ranked Penn State in their Big Ten home opener by a score of 3-0. The undersized Badgers fought hard, but ultimately Penn State was simply too much to handle. Wisconsin kept up with Penn State the first two sets but struggled in the third.“I thought we played well the first two sets, not our best,” Waite said. “And that made us come out of the locker room thinking if we played a little bit better, we’d get the next set, and it ended up being the reverse.”Penn State had five service errors in the first set to keep Wisconsin in the set. But the Badgers hit the ball poorly in that first set with a hitting percentage of only .095 compared to .360 for the Nittany Lions, but Wisconsin only lost 25-19.The Badgers appeared to have righted the ship in the second set. Wisconsin out-blocked Penn State 5-2 in the second set, scoring three straight points off blocks in the later stages of the set.However, it was a five-point Penn State scoring run that proved to be the difference in the third. The Badgers tied it up 11-11 before Penn State reeled off five straight unanswered points to take control of the set before going onto win 25-21.Middle blocker Alexis Mitchell said the improvement in hitting in the second set wasn’t a surprise.“Hitters have to be aggressive,” Mitchell said. “I don’t think we came out very aggressive in the first set. As hitters we have to put the ball away, and I think in the second set we were closer because we were able to hit shots.”The wheels appeared to have fallen off in the decisive third set, as the Badgers lost 25-7. Wisconsin hit at a percentage of exactly zero in the third, while Penn State hit an astonishing .500.The Nittany Lions went on another five-point scoring run in the third behind the serving of sophomore setter Micha Hancock, whom Pete Waite called the best server in the country. Hancock had two service aces in the set.According to Hickey, the Badgers simply lost focus in the final set.“We practiced all week on receiving tough against Micha’s serve,” she said. “She did a really nice job and she’s a really great server, but I think that we just let up a little bit at the end. We really needed to stay positive and have a little more confidence.”last_img