Disappointing Conclusion

With the road to the Final Four mapped out perfectly in front of them, the Wisconsin women's volleyball team gets stunned at home, getting swept right out of the playoffs.

MADISON — This was not the way Amanda Berkley, Megan Mills, Taylor Reineke, Jackie Simpson and Jocelyn Wack were supposed to end their Wisconsin volleyball careers.

Not after four 20-plus win seasons, not after three straight years of reaching at least the post-season regionals and especially not with having the first four rounds of the NCAA tournament hosted at the Field House.

Needless to say, Iowa State's 30-28, 30-25, 30-24 upset sweep of Wisconsin Saturday night came as complete shock to the Badgers.

"This is certainly not a position we expected to be in," UW head coach Pete Waite said.

Wisconsin (25-6) came out hot in the first game, going on an 11-3 run to go up 14-6, but Iowa State (19-13) would quickly answer back.

Behind Lauren Cumming's six kills in the opening set, the Cyclones tied the score up at 23 and exchanged the lead several times. After Wisconsin's Brittney Dolgner tied things back up at 28, Iowa State took advantage of an attack error by Taylor Reineke to go up by one point and then ISU freshman outside hitter Victoria Henson hit home the game-winning kill to give the Cyclones the early lead.

Coming from behind is nothing new for this Cyclones team, though. It's something they've been doing all season long.

"We've been really good under pressure," Iowa State head coach Christy Johnson said. "We've been really good coming back in matches. Whether it's down 10 points or down games, I feel like our team has just learned how to fight and how to come back and never give up."

It was evident in Friday's first round match when Iowa State pulled out a five-game victory over San Diego and Waite knew if any team was going to upset Wisconsin, it would be Johnson's squad.

Johnson, a former UW assistant, remains close with much of Wisconsin's coaching staff and is the one who recruited much of the Badgers' senior class.

"If anybody in the country knows our program and our players, she does," Waite said. "If anybody was going to do this, it had to be them."

For Johnson, the win over her former team was sort of a bittersweet feeling.

"I obviously have mixed emotions," Johnson said. "I'm so happy and so thrilled for our teams and our players. I'm ecstatic, but also sad for Wisconsin because they're people I personally care about."

While Waite couldn't pinpoint where things went wrong for Wisconsin, one key for Iowa State was stopping Dolgner, the Badgers' leading scorer. The sophomore outside hitter was flustered all match long by a feisty Iowa State defense that knew exactly how to defend her.

"My strong shot is the cross-court shot and they did a very good job defending that," Dolgner said. "Their middle blocker really forced me to hit different shots that I'm not as comfortable hitting."

With Dolgner struggling, Waite tried switching the line-up around—subbing in Allison Wack for her in the second game, as well as other reserves throughout the match. However, Wisconsin simply couldn't find the right combination and was out of sync, hitting a season-low .128.

"It's very uncharacteristic for us to have a hitting percentage like that and to be off our game at an important time like this," Waite said.


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