"This is one of the types of matches that fans love and coaches hate," UW head coach Pete Waite said. "It was exciting, you had to come from behind. I think our team started very slowly and just were not in rhythm at all. They really had to fight hard. They had to really search for different ways to get every point and get back on track with our play and eventually get the win."
UW began the match in sluggish fashion, falling behind early and never recovering. The Spartans held the Badgers to just a .053 hitting percentage while MSU hit at a .316 clip.
Michigan State had a chance to put Wisconsin in a huge hole by winning game two, but was unable to finish UW off. With the Spartans leading 28-26, the Badgers fought back to tie the game after an illegal hit by MSU and a service ace from Odenthal. Wisconsin then got kills from Sheila Shaw and Maria Carlini to secure the win, sending the two teams into the locker room with the score tied at one game apiece.
"That was huge," Waite said. "Had we lost that, it would have been really hard to get ourselves out of the hole we dug."
Game three was also tightly contested, with the score deadlocked as late as 27-27. Once again though, it was Wisconsin that prevailed down the stretch. Two hitting errors from MSU's Kim Schram, sandwiched around a solo block by Carlini gave UW the win.
With momentum firmly on their side, the Badgers used a 6-0 run to open up a cushion in the fourth game. Fittingly, it was Carlini who slammed home match point, one of her career-high 19 kills. She also added 11 defensive digs, giving the sophomore left-side hitter her second-consecutive double-double.
"I think (setter) Jackie (Simpson) did a really good job of getting me one-on-ones," Carlini said. "Sheila and Taylor were holding the middle blockers so I had a lot of one-on-ones."
Shaw and Aubrey Meierotto joined Carlini in double figures. Shaw racked up 13 kills while Meierotto added 12.
Defensively, freshman libero Jocelyn Wack anchored the Badger back row with 25 digs. She also recorded her third kill of the season.
"Someone who really kept us in the game and brought us back to a high level of play was Jocelyn Wack," Waite said. "She made some great digs, especially in the second game, just to light a fire under everybody and get them excited to play better."
Making their final regular-season appearance at the Field House, Odenthal and Weidner finished with four and two kills, respectively.
"We accomplished what we wanted to do here," Waite said. "We got our two wins at home. Now we know we've got two tough road games."