"The team is just really locked into each other right now," UW head coach Pete Waite said. "I think they are just playing as a unit and when you do that, it makes it hard for the opponent to score. … From the beginning, we are trying to get better every weekend and we have."
Wisconsin came out clicking in the first game, winning seven of the first nine points in the first game. The Badgers built their big lead on the serving arm of senior Maria Carlini, who served up two aces that fell in between the Michigan defense. When Carlini wasn't serving up aces, she was giving black eyes to the Wolverines, blasting three kills at the Michigan defense. Carlini wasn't alone in her efforts in the first game, as true freshman Brittany Dolgner slammed five kills for the Badgers.
In just her first year hitting for the Badgers, Dolger has gelled nicely into an experienced team, leading the Badgers in kills against both Michigan and Michigan State on the weekend.
"I am finally just getting use to having the bigger block and since I am one of the shorter girls, I need to go around the blocker and use my hands. So, I am getting use to that," Dolger said.
Although the first game was close throughout, Michigan didn't help there chances of winning game one due to poor execution on the serve and on the attack. The Wolverines committed six errors, served four balls out of bounce and only hit .233 for the game. With all those factors, Wisconsin took the first game 30-24.
The second game showed an even more balanced attack for the Badgers, as Audra Jeffers, Carlini and Dodger scored three kills and junior Amy Bladow led the way with four. The second game also showed more poor execution from Michigan, with the Wolverines having nine errors, two more service errors and hitting a paltry .071 for the game. The Badgers easily took game two, winning by a resounding 11 points in a 30-19 blasting.
"That's a good team and they did change their libero [in the second game]," Waite said. "Even coming into this match, they changed some positioning in terms of outside hitters. We try not to let that effect us and that's the great thing about our sport. What are we doing on our side of the net and how do we make adjustments as they do, but how solid are we and how discipline we are in all aspects. We are a solid team playing at a high level right now."
Game three seemed to be over before it started, with Wisconsin jumping out to a 16-4 lead that forced Michigan to call a timeout to try and regroup. Even after the timeout, the Badgers would not relent offensively, taking five of the next seven points after the timeout and the Badgers cruised the rest of the way to finish off the sweep.
In addition to forcing Michigan to make 24 attack and seven service errors in the three game set, the Badgers refused to let the Wolverines alter their shots. Michigan only managed one block in the entire three-game set. Coming into the match up, Michigan was averaging 2.92 blocks per game, good enough for fourth in the Big Ten. It was just that type of night for the Badgers where everything was working.
"[The block] felt good tonight," Reinke said. "We were definitely clicking and closing seams. We worked on it all week in practice and it definitely showed tonight."
"I am really happy with our win tonight. I think for two nights in a row, we've played real solid ball as a team," Waite said. "[We] made it hard for other team to hit around us [and] blocked extra well tonight. Fourteen and a half [blocks] to one is outstanding and the hitting percentages we are putting up are better than we have in, I think, years as a team with the number of players hitting those kinds of numbers. Eight service aces and we didn't get aced once, so that's a solid game."
With Wisconsin up 25-10 in the third game, the UW student section began a rousing rendition of happy birthday directed to UW junior Maya Carroll, who was celebrating her 21st birthday on Saturday. Carroll, who has playing sparingly this year, sheepishly waved to the students from the bench. But when the score reached 27-11, the students got more than they bargained for with Carroll being sent into action to finish off the Badger victory. As an added bonus, Carroll scored a strong kill off a set from junior Jackie Simpson.
For Waite and the rest of the Badgers, it was a nice present to give Carroll for her hard work in practice.
"That was a little gift from [the coaches] and from the whole team," Waite said.