Badgers edge Illinois in five-set thriller
Four Badgers earn double-doubles
MADISON, Wis. – After trailing 2-1 in the match, the eighth-ranked Wisconsin volleyball team needed to push the match to five sets in order to beat Illinois on Sunday afternoon in the UW Field House. The Badgers did just that, coming from behind to down the Fighting Illini, 25-27, 25-20, 22-25, 25-19, 15-5.
The Illini (7-7, 2-2 B1G) started the match strong, taking the first set in extra points. After Wisconsin (9-3, 3-1) won the second set, Illinois took the lead in the match with a win in the third set.
Trailing by as many as five points (8-3) in the fourth set, UW rallied to tie the period at 10 after winning a crucial challenge. The Badgers pulled away late, breaking a 16-16 tie with three-straight points to lead 19-16. Another 3-0 run put UW up 22-17, an advantage Illinois couldn’t overcome, to send the match to a fifth set.
In the fifth set, Devyn Robinson had three kills and teamed with Danielle Hart on a block to put Wisconsin up 7-4. Illinois struggled with its attacking the rest of the set, hitting a negative .300 percent for the period, as the Badgers cruised to a 10-point win.
Wisconsin hit .234 (62 kills-22 errors-171 attempts) while holding Illinois to .139 (58-33-180). Sarah Franklin led the Badgers with 15 kills followed by Robinson with 14 putaways and a .423 hitting percentage.
Four players had double-digit digs with Gulce Guctekin leading all players with a career-high 23 digs. Julia Orzoł followed with a career-high 16 saves, Izzy Ashburn added 12, and MJ Hammill ended with 11 digs.
Four Badgers finished with double-doubles as Ashburn added a team-high 27 assists to go along with her digs. Hammill earned her third career double-double, adding 20 helpers to her digs. Guctekin put up a career-high 11 assists to secure her first double-double while Orzoł’s career-best 16 digs and 12 kills also secured her a double-double.
The Badgers finished with a 13-9 block advantage with Caroline Crawford leading the way with seven total blocks. Hart closely followed with six stuffs.
Wisconsin also outscored Illinois, 6-4, from the service line behind two aces from Ashburn.
Straight from the Court
Head Coach Kelly Sheffield
“That was the best passing by the numbers that we’ve passed all year against what we consider one of the best serving teams. They were going after Sarah [Franklin] a ton and I thought she did a really great job of handling the barrage.
“I thought [Ashburn and Hammill] did a great job of executing the game plan and really getting our middles involved early on in the match and pumping them. Then we went to our pins late, so I thought these two … this was the best match both these guys have had at executing.”
“Volleyball is a game of ups and downs and if you’re gonna ride that wave and have really, really high highs and super low lows, you’re going to be exhausted by the end of a five-set match and you’re not going to have the energy to get through it.. That’s the beauty of having such a team sport and having even two setters is you’re having eyes on the court and off the court, and keeping that mentality of team and togetherness”
“A win feels great. Growth through a game feels even better and I think that’s what we showed just now. We didn’t start off with our best volleyball, but we grew throughout the match and we’re still growing every single day, every practice, every game. The fact that we were able to come back from that was huge for us.”
Notes to know
• The Badgers had four players record double-doubles in the match.
• Freshman Gulce Guctekin recorded a career-high 23 digs to lead all players and also added a career-best 11 assists for her first career double-double. It was also her 10th straight match with 10-or-more save.
• Senior Izzy Ashburn earned her first career double-double with 27 assists and 12 digs.
• Junior MJ Hammill earned her third double-double of the season and of her career with 20 assists and 11 digs.
• Sophomore Julia Orzol had her first double-double of the season and the seventh of her career with 12 kills and a career-high 16 digs.
• Redshirt junior Liz Gregorski tied her career bests of one service ace and two digs.
• Redshirt sophomore Sarah Franklin led the Badgers with 15 kills, her third-straight match with double-figure kills.
• Wisconsin won its first five-set match of the season, putting away a season-high 62 kills while adding a season-high 76 digs.
The Badgers travel to Bloomington, Indiana, to face the Hoosiers on Wednesday at 7 p.m. CT. The match airs live on the Big Ten Network and can be heard on WIBA 1310. Wisconsin’s road trip continues on Saturday when UW travels to No. 5 Purdue. First serve is at 5 p.m. CT from West Lafayette, Indiana, streamed on B1G+.