Wisconsin volleyball had a tough task, taking on No. 1 seed Texas in its retun to the Final Four for the first time since 2000. The Badgers didn't back down to the challenge and rode the play of it's young stars to a 3-1 (25-18, 25-19, 26-28, 25-23) victory over the top-seeded and defending champion Longhorns.
Star freshman Lauren Carlini ended the match with 50 assists and 12 digs, while her front-line mate, Ellen Chapman, led the Badgers in kills—with 17 on the night.
The Badgers also used a huge 7-2 advantage in service aces to win the match and move on to the national championship.
However, it wasn't just the two youngsters making big time contributions, as fellow attackers Deme Morales and Dominique Thompson came up huge. Thompson led the Badgers in attacking percentage, converting on .222 of her kill attempts and ending the match with 12 kills in total.
Morales came up big in the final set on her way to finishing second on the team in kills, with 14.
Some would have assumed a team with a ton of youth, a new head coach and going up against the defending national champions would've been intimidated and nervous.
It didn't show though, as Wisconsin won the first two sets in pretty dominating fashion, 25-18 and 25-19.
The first set started with the Badgers going down 3-1 early on, but the team settled down and took it to the Longhorns right back. Up 8-4, the Badgers briefly let the Longhorns back in the set, but eventually went up by six points more than once in the set and wont it by seven.
Wisconsin got all three of its stars on the night to step up big-time in the second set as Carlini put up 14 assists and two kills, while Chapman hit for four kills and three aces and Morales had five kills and an assist in the 25-19 win to put Texas back on its heels.
The Longhorns battled back in a hard-fought third set, one that saw Wisconsin have more errors than kills (16-15) and it allowed Texas to take a nail-biting set at 26-28.
Wisconsin responded back with the familiar faces of Chapman and Carlini doing the damage. Carlini had tied her game-high with 14 assists, while Chapman had a set-high seven kills.
The Badgers needed every bit of it as they went down 2-5 and 3-7 early on in the fourth set. Wisconsin made a mini-rally, getting it back to within a point at 7-8 and 8-9. From there, the Longhorns looked to take over the set again, going up 12-9 on a block by Khat Bell on an attacking error by UW's Haleigh Nelson.
Wisconsin didn't give up, tying the match for the first time at 12-12. Wisconsin couldn't get into the lead to take control of the match though and had to wait through five other ties in the set, before taking it's first lead since 1-0 at 23-22.
That was all the lead the Badgers needed though, as they closed out the final set with two straight points.
The Badgers will take on the winner of Penn State vs. Washington for the National Championship on Saturday at 8:30pm CT on ESPN2 in Seattle.