Volleyball: Wild first set propels Wisconsin past Michigan in three sets

first_imgIn the media room after the match, the Wisconsin volleyball team cracked jokes and looked relaxed after a convincing three-set win over Michigan.But during a first set that saw opportunities for both sides to get a big opening victory, there was little room for humor on the court.In what seemed to be the makings of an epic barnburner between two top-25 foes, Wisconsin (17-6, 9-4 Big Ten) upended Michigan (16-8, 6-7 Big Ten) in straight sets after a back and forth first set.The Badgers continued their recent streak of hot play, extending their winning streak to five matches behind an outstanding performance from junior Haleigh Nelson.Nelson was particularly effective in the first set with nine of her 14 kills in a rally ending 32-30 in the Badgers favor. Nelson later finished with an outstanding hitting percentage of 54 percent.With their backs against the wall, head coach Kelly Sheffield called a time out with Wisconsin facing a 21-17 deficit and Michigan looking to draw first blood. But Sheffield’s well-placed time out calmed his team and allowed them to burst out of the break with six consecutive points.“He told us that we weren’t hitting the shots that we were supposed to be hitting, and that’s why we weren’t scoring,” Nelson said. “Then, four swings out of the next six went to the zone we were going for and we were able to come back. Follow the game plan and then we started rolling.”After the Badgers came out from the first set marathon victorious, they asserted their dominance and had their way with the Wolverine defenders.Lauren Carlini dissected the Michigan defense and fed Nelson, Lauryn Gillis (14 kills) and Kelli Bates (10 kills) for a well-balanced Wisconsin attack.Wisconsin capitalized on their big first set victory, which set the tone for the rest of the match.“I think it fired us up,” Carlini said, “I don’t know if it deterred them at all, but I think we started switching up our serving zones and keeping them off balance. I think that was one of the main factors in game two and why it seemed kind of lopsided there for a while.”Sheffield knows the ups and downs that come with big time volleyball and was pleased his team could finally come out on the positive side of an intense match.“We’ve got it taken to us by some teams at times in some sets, and we’ve taken some other teams,” Sheffield said. “We’ve been on both ends of it. I don’t think that had a lot to do with them. It was just the crazy game of volleyball.”last_img

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