"I'm pleased with our start," said UW Coach Pete Waite. "It was a little slow in the beginning and we had to come from behind in the second game, but a lot of it is just getting the jitters out to start the season in front of our crowd. Overall, our numbers were good by the end of the match and we were able to keep their top hitters down a little bit tonight."
Sophomore Brittney Dolgner led Wisconsin with 16 kills and 18 points. In her first match as a starter, sophomore Caity DuPont tied her career match-high kills (9) and blocks (2) while setting a new personal career match-high record in digs (5) and hitting percentage (.438).
Senior co-captain Taylor Reineke led all blockers with six block assists, which put her over the 500 career block mark. Fellow senior Jackie Simpson helped stuff four potential Panther kills. Simpson also had 37 assists in running the Badger offense, which hit at a .233 clip and put down 47 kills.
Jocelyn Wack recorded 16 digs for UW and Simpson added nine digs and four blocks on the night.
"My focus has been to get better and strong on defense my entire career," said Simpson. "I'm starting to really pick it up and play at a different level. Digging balls has been my strong focus, especially in my back court defense. Now, I just have to put them on target."
Simpson also expressed her enthusiasm about the Badgers' offense this season. "The thing that is really exciting about this year is just having the balanced offense that we have. In any rotation there are always three options. It's never a forced situation where you have to give the ball to a certain hitter, so it's really exciting to just be able to play with the flow of the game and get things going."
Wisconsin outblocked UWM 10.5- three, holding the Panthers to a .074 team hitting percentage.
Senior Jamie Gabrielsen led Milwaukee with 10 kills and fellow senior Leanne Felsing recorded eight kills and two block assists in the match. Sophomore Kellye Zaporski made 12 digs for the Panthers.
The Badgers led all of game one but had to battle back from a 9-5 deficit in game two. Senior Amanda Berkley served three straight points to pull Wisconsin even at 9-9. With Wack on the service line, the UW scored six straight to take a 17-11 lead, taking advantage of four Panther hitting errors.
The Badgers also trailed in game three but this time it was the outside hitting duo of Dolgner and DuPont, who combined for eight of the UW's 15 kills in the game, to pull out the win.
The InnTowner Invitational wraps up on Saturday with Wisconsin facing Gardner Webb at Noon and Syracuse at 7 p.m. in the Field House.