UW Volleyball opens 2014 season with sweep of Louisville

In just one season the Wisconsin Badgers volleyball team went from afterthought in the Big Ten to being one of the top teams in the country. After a run to the National Championship game in 2013, the Badgers began 2014 as the No. 6-ranked team in the country.

At the annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge, the Badgers didn’t disappoint the pollsters thanks to a sweep of the Louisville Cardinals. Wisconsin won all three games, doing it in impressive fashion (25-16, 25-22, 25-17).

As the scoreline suggests, the Badgers were not short on offensive firepower and didn’t squander many opportunities for the game. UW hit .305 for the match (46 kills – 14 errors – 105 attempts) and had both Ellen Chapman and Courtney Thomas go in double digits for kills (11 and 10 respectively).

UW also got a great effort from senior Dominique Thompson, who had nine kills of her own.

The catalyst for Wisconsin’s success was sophomore Lauren Carlini, who had 39 assists on the night while running everything for the Badgers’ offense.

Serving was also a huge area of success for the Badgers, with the team serving up six aces, with both Carlini and Chapman recording two aces.

The efficiency and serving effectiveness didn’t go unnoticed by head coach Kelly Sheffield either, as he noted both were the keys to UW’s first victory of the season.

“I thought we served the ball pretty well except in a couple of instances,” Sheffield said. “I thought we put a lot of pressure on their passers. Offensively, we had some moments where we were in rhythm. Those were probably the two biggest things.”

If there was a spot for improvement, it was on the defensive side of things, as UW didn’t do a lot of damage at the net. Wisconsin recorded just three blocks all game long, and that’s got to change if UW wants to contend with the best in the country again.

“I thought our hands were a little bit soft up there at the net and I thought our back row wasn’t aggressive enough,” explained Sheffield of his team’s defense. “I hope that is an area that will look a lot better tomorrow night.”

The Badgers improve to 28-13 all-time in season openers, including 18-7 mark on the road. Wisconsin wraps up its weekend of play against Notre Dame on Saturday at 4 p.m.

Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadger and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, 32flags.com as well as Publisher of Big Ten site talking10.com