Volleyball: Badgers advance to second round

Wisconsin marches past Loyola to set up second-round match with California

The 11th-seeded University of Wisconsin volleyball team's first-round NCAA Tournament match at the UW Field House was more warmup than competition.

Aside from a hiccup in game two the Badgers dominated, earning a sweep of visiting Loyola, 30-18, 30-26, 30-14.

Wisconsin (24-6) will face California (19-10) in a second-round matchup Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Field House in Madison. The Bears topped Valparaiso 30-26, 30-24, 30-21 in the initial first-round contest here Friday evening.

The winner of the Wisconsin-Cal match will face No. 6 Notre Dame (30-3) in a College Station Regional semi-final Dec. 9.

The Badgers' win over Loyola was not the prettiest of matches, but Wisconsin was happy to advance to the second round.

"We definitely wanted to get done in three," UW coach Pete Waite said. "Other than that you just want to be playing smooth as a team and flowing well together on the court… "

"We wanted to finish strong. I think that we made a statement in the last game that we're ready to go now."

The Badgers struggled to put Loyola away in game two, building 15-11, 17-13 and 20-16 leads only to see the Ramblers battle back. After a timeout, Loyola rattled off five straight points to take a 21-20 lead.

"We definitely showed a lot of fight in the second game," Loyola coach Marcie Bomhack said. "I think that we were passing well, playing defense well, which allowed our offense to be pretty smooth."

The Ramblers' run prompted a UW timeout. The Badgers responded with four straight points of their own to regain control of the game, with a pair of kills from outside hitter Aubrey Meierotto and a pair of service aces by Jocelyn Wack.

A Sheila Shaw ace gave UW a 29-24 lead and outside hitter Maria Carlini clinched the game with a kill.

In game three, the Badgers jumped out to 4-0 and 7-1 leads and never looked back.

Shaw had a match-high seven blocks to go with 10 kills, no hitting errors and a .625 hitting percentage.

"Sheila's probably the best middle blocker we've seen this season…," Bomhack said. "We don't get a lot of experience against players like that. And then to come into an environment like this and have to stop her. She's a really great player and she did a nice job tonight."

Shaw was not alone in filling up the box score.

Carlini led all players with 12 kills and 13 digs. Setter Jackie Simpson had four kills and spread around UW's offense with 38 assists. Outside hitter Audra Jeffers had eight kills and middle blocker Taylor Reineke chipped in seven.

Libero Jocelyn Wack had 10 digs, to extend her double-digit digs streak to 61 games.

"Statistically we looked very good," Waite said. "But as far as the goals we have and what we want to look like on the court, ball handling and playing together. I don't think the stats show how we felt out there.

"So I think they worked hard to get it in gear and get playing well."

"I thought we played well, especially in the first and third game," Carlini said, referring to Friday night's match with eye to Saturday. "California is a great team. So for us to play the way we did in the first and third game against them… I know we're going to do really well."

Before dispatching the Ramblers the Badgers watched Cal's match with the Crusaders, in which Cal outside hitter Angie Pressey had a match-high 15 kills.

"We know they've got some great athletes," Wisconsin coach Pete Waite said. "Pressey on the outside was getting up and banging some balls."

Pressey stands 5-foot-8, short for an outside hitter, but she is a dangerous player.

"Did you watch her jump?" Waite said. "It doesn't matter how tall you are to start. It's how high you are with your jump. And she's got long arms, big jump, fast arm. The size really doesn't matter in her case."

Cal is a taller team overall than Loyola, but the Badgers' size advantage will again be a factor Saturday night.

"Wisconsin's big. It's huge," Cal coach Rich Feller said. "They play in a great conference. So they're used to playing teams like ours. On the other side of that we're used to playing teams like them.

"We know that we're undersized by the standards of teams in this league… It just makes us work that much harder."

"The Pac-10 is a great conference and they're used to big-name teams," Waite said. "So not much is going to rattle them. But I know our team gets up for teams like this and this is a little more our size and our style and it should be a great match."

Tournament ball proves tricky

The Badgers had seven service errors, including four from Shaw and two by serving specialist Megan Mills. Waite said this was due in large part to the use of a different brand of ball for tournament play. The Badgers normally use a Baden ball, but the NCAA Tournament uses Molten.

"They're both good balls," Waite said. "It's just whatever you're used to you get very comfortable with how it moves. It's like a knuckle ball in baseball. It moves a ton. It can go side-to-side or it drops down three feet. If it drops down three feet two feet too soon you're hitting somebody in the head."

Badger Nation Top Stories