Volleyball team ventures to ‘Great Lakes State’

first_imgMATTHEW KUTZ/Herald photoWhile the dreaded week of midterms may be over for many on campus, the UW volleyball team still has a big test on its schedule this weekend.The Badgers will be leaving the friendly confines of the Fieldhouse to embark on a two-week road trip beginning this weekend with matches at Michigan State and Michigan.Now approximately halfway through the season, these conference away games against Big Ten opponents will be a crucial test for head coach Pete Waite’s team heading into the stretch run of the schedule.”Every time you go on the road, those teams are cranked up,” Waite said. “They’ve got all their friends and family there, so you’ve got to really focus and stand up to every bit of energy that they throw at you.”I think our last time out at Purdue and Illinois, it was great that we stood up to both of them,” he continued. “This is big because if we get by this with a couple of wins, we can start looking at the second half now.”While Michigan State and Michigan may not be two of the better teams in the Big Ten at 2-6 and 3-5 in conference play, respectively, the Badgers know the importance of every Big Ten match if they want to stay in the hunt for the conference championship.”You definitely can’t overlook any weekend in the Big Ten because they’re all difficult and every team is going to come at you with their best game,” senior co-captain Sheila Shaw said.But with a rematch against third-ranked Penn State (Wisconsin lost 0-3 in the earlier outing at the Field House October 8) the following weekend, overlooking Michigan and Michigan State may be an unintentional habit.”We’re always going to have that Penn State match in our mind, but we’re definitely focused for the Michigan games as well,” freshman Audra Jeffers said.As always, Waite emphasized the consequences of overlooking any Big Ten team on any given night.”You can’t [overlook any team] because if we mess up this weekend then we’re history and it doesn’t mean anything when we go to Penn State,” Waite said. “We want to make sure that we take care of business now and then we can look next Monday at the next week.”With that mentality in mind, preparation this week has been the same as any normal week of practice.”You prepare the same way all the time; it’s just a matter of who you’re playing that week,” Waite said. “We’ve got Michigan State and Michigan — they’re a little different style of teams, everyone’s a little bit different, but in general, we’re always trying to improve ourselves, work on something on our side of the net.”However, Waite has been adjusting Wisconsin’s offensive attack for Michigan’s defense, as sophomore libero Stesha Selsky is one of the best back-row players in the conference with 5.43 digs per game.Also on the Badgers’ scouting report for this weekend is Michigan State’s sophomore outside hitter Katie Johnson, who currently ranks second in the conference in kills with 5.21 per game.Once again, passing will be crucial for Wisconsin’s success.”Passing is huge for us,” Jeffers said. “When we’re passing well, the rest of the game is going really well so if we just stay focused on our passing right away and keep that consistent throughout the entire match we should do really well.”Waite has shuffled between sophomore Jackie Simpson and junior Katie Lorenzen at setter, so it could be perceived that the Badgers’ passing game is in a bit of a flux, but Wisconsin’s big hitters have repeatedly said that both Simpson and Lorenzen have gotten the job done.”They’re both very good setters, really confident and work very hard for our team,” Shaw said. “I think us as hitters feel really comfortable with either one of them going in. They’re great setters and it doesn’t matter who we have in.”Aside from all of the pre-game aspects, Shaw said that it always comes back to playing Wisconsin’s style of game no matter what.”It just comes back to us — focusing on our game and just trying to solidify our defense and offense and keep it crisp,” Shaw said.last_img

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