Madison, Wis. - The Kelly Sheffield era got off to a big start in the deepest volleyball conference in the country as the Badgers downed No. 20 Purdue in 3 sets, 25-23, 25-17 and 25-13. Wisconsin improved to 12-1 on the season with the win and the Badgers knocked off their second ranked opponent of the season as well.
“When you’re winning two of the games by two points, there wasn’t a lot that separated the two teams,” said first-year head coach Kelly Sheffield to UWBadgers.com. “I thought we played pretty well for most of the match.
“I’m proud of them right now, but we know that there are a lot more challenges down the road. But we’ve answered the bell so far with being able to handle adversity, and that builds a team’s confidence.”
Wisconsin struggled offensively all match long, hitting just .156 for the match on the attack but the defense picked things up, forcing Purdue to hit just .055 for the match and held a 10.5-3 block advantage in earning the Big Ten opening win.
Offensively three players really stood out and keyed the Badger victory. Courtney Thomas led the Badgers with 10 kills and was backed up by Deme Morales and Haleigh Nelson who had 8 kills apiece. Nelson was the most efficient player on the court for Wisconsin, hitting .438 for the game as well.
The one area UW needs to clean up though came in service errors as they committed 11 to the Boilermakers 5 and in the ultra-competitive Big Ten something like that is libel to kill your chances in a match more often than not.
So, while the Badgers won and took down a big opponent to open conference play, there will be plenty to work on going forward.
Wisconsin will need to put the win and the errors behind them quickly though as they host Indiana (8-4, 0-1) on Saturday at 7pm in the UW Fieldhouse.