Wisconsin 3, Loyola Chicago 0

Dec. 2, 2005

MADISON, Wis. -- The 13th-ranked Wisconsin Badger volleyball team defeated Loyola Chicago 30-18, 30-26, 30-14 in the first round of the NCAA Volleyball Tournament Friday night at the UW Field House. Wisconsin plays 16th-ranked Cal, who defeated Valparaiso 3-0 to advance, in the second round on Saturday at 7 p.m. in the UW Field House.

Maria Carlini registered her seventh double-double effort of the season with match-highs of 12 kills and 13 digs.

Wisconsin (24-6) hit .363 on the attack with middle blocker Sheila Shaw adding 10 kills on a .625 hitting percentage. Setter Jackie Simpson coordinated the Badger attack, leading the match with 38 assists. Shaw had match-high seven blocks, helping the Badgers outblock the Ramblers 10-4. Loyola was held to a .156 attack percentage for the match. Courtney Ashley led with 10 kills.

"It's a good win to start the tournament," said head coach Pete Waite. "We definitely weren't clicking on all cylinders and I think playing a team like Loyola * they're very scrappy, they dug a lot of balls and they stayed in the game * and it's just a different style than we play in the Big Ten (Conference), so we're glad we got re-focused in the third game and finished strong."

Wisconsin helped themselves at the service line with a 9-1 advantage over the Ramblers in service aces. Carlini, Shaw, libero Jocelyn Wack and defensive specialist Megan Mills had two service aces apiece.

"I thought we played well, especially in the first and third games, and I think California's a great team, so for us to play the way we did the first and third games against them," said Carlini. "I think we're going to do really well. I know we're going to do really well."

The only point Wisconsin trailed in game one was 0-1. An ensuing 6-2 run gave the UW a lead they would never lose. Carlini and Shaw set the tone early with four kills each with both hitting over .500 on the attack. Two blocks from Shaw helped the Badgers limit the Rambler attack to a .079 hitting percentage in the opening game.

Loyola's offense became more efficient in the second game but Wisconsin held a slight .381-.341 advantage in hitting percentage. After the Badger built a 17-13 advantage, the Ramblers responded with a 5-0 run to take their only lead of the game. Two service aces from Wack and two kills from outside hitter Aubrey Meierotto keyed an instant 4-0 reply, giving Wisconsin a 24-21 lead it would never relinquish.

"I think we were taking some good swings, they were just digging some balls," said Waite. "They were real fired up to make plays and they did and that can throw you off your rhythm a little bit. I don't think it was anything fancy they were doing; it wasn't overpowering, it was just, on occasion, tooling us off the block a little bit."

Wisconsin took control early in game three, taking a 4-0 lead thanks to two kills from opposite hitter Audra Jeffers. The Badgers secured the win defensively, outblocking the Ramblers 4-1. Three more blocks from Shaw helped Wisconsin limit the Rambler attack to its lowest hitting game of the match, negative .037.

"We definitely wanted to get done in three," said Waite. "Other than that, you just want to be playing smooth as a team and flowing well together on the court, and part of it is getting used to a different ball * this is a tournament ball and it's different than what we use so some things happen differently out there."

Carlini and Wack led the Badgers defense with 13 and 10 digs, respectively. Wack's performance was the minimum needed to extend her double-figure dig steak to 61 matches.

"It's always a little nerve-wracking, the first match," said Waite. "It's the NCAA tournament, you've got to get rolling, you've been building months and months for this moment, and whether you're home or away or no matter who you're against, you might be a little tight sometimes. I think we got a little bit of that behind us now, and I think we can re-focus for a very good Cal team now."

-- Courtesy Wisconsin/i>