Its safe to say there are few places that the University of Wisconsin athletic program likes traveling to less than West Lafayette, Ind. A trip to Purdue has long been tricky for the football and basketball teams, but itâ€™s been particularly difficult for the Badgers volleyball program.
Wisconsin entered Wednesdayâ€™s contest, the Badgers had not won in West Lafayette since 2007. However, the No. 4 Badgers entered this contest with No. 13 Purdue riding on a nine-game win streak.
So, nothing like continuing the current win streak and exercising some demons at the same time. Thatâ€™s exactly what the Badgers did on Wednesday, sweeping the BoilermakersÂ 28-26, 25-16, 25-19. With the sweep, Wisconsin has also won its last 22 sets in a row.
The win also gave the Badgers a further hold on the top spot in the Big Ten, with a 10-1 conference record. It also gave them a two-game cushion over the Boilermakers and a one game lead on both Penn State and Illinois.
â€śWeâ€™re happy with how we played,â€ť Sheffield said, via UWâ€™s athletic site. â€śThis was a good performance for us. It was really against a good team. I think sometimes as coaches you sit there and you try to find all these things to get on your team about, but with this match itâ€™s hard. It wasnâ€™t perfect at all, but it was a darn good match for us.â€ť
When youâ€™re winning like Wisconsin is, thereâ€™s usually a formula in place and in this win it was more of the same for UW. The Badgers hit well, blocked well and forced the Boilermakers in to panic-mode following an incredible comeback in the first set.
The Badgers were faced with a 15-11 deficit in the first set, only to see the hole dug dipper just a few points later. Purdue looked to be ending the streak up 21-14. Wisconsin answered back with a 5-0 run of its own to put itself right back in the set.
After trading six kills in the match, Wisconsin worked its magic at the net and stuffed the first set point chance. From there UW found something within and clawed back to take the advantage back and eventually win the set.
Itâ€™s not coincidence that the final block at the net set a tone that would carry over the rest of the match either.Â UW held a 10.5-1 advantage in blocks, led by seniorÂ Dominique Thompsonâ€™s seven blocks. She wasnâ€™t the only standout on the defensive side of the ball, asÂ junior Taylor Morey and senior Deme Morales added to the defensive effort with 13 and 11 digs respectively.
Those two numbers also meant a ton of errors for the Boilermakers, as they were forced in to hitting just .203 for the match.
However, it wasnâ€™t just the defense that did the trick for UW against Purdue. Wisconsin hitÂ .379 (50 kills â€“ 6 errors â€“ 116 attempts), with three players going off for double-digit kills in the match. Senior Ellen Chapman led the way with 16 kills, while freshmanÂ Kelli Bates added 13 and Thompson chipped in 11 for a near double double.
â€śOur hitters are just getting smarter,â€ť UW head coach Kelly Sheffield said. â€śTheyâ€™re adding to their game, and theyâ€™re feeling more confident and comfortable with their game. And Lauren (Carlini) did a really good job running the offense tonight.â€ť
Carlini had a near perfect night in running the Badgers offense, tallying 42 assists and committing just two service errors on the night.
Wisconsin will stay in the state of Indiana for its next match, taking on the Hoosiers of Indiana on Saturday at 6pm CT.