CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- For the first time since 2005, Wisconsin advanced to play in an NCAA regional final. The 12th-seeded Badgers continue on with a 25-15, 23-25, 25-22, 25-15 win against Florida State on Friday night at the State Farm Center.
Wisconsin (26-9) will advance to the regional final and play Purdue in the quarterfinals at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
Over-powering opponents offensively has become the tournament theme for Wisconsin in its three NCAA wins. The Badgers finished with a 67-46 advantage in kills and out-hit the Seminoles .279 (67 kills – 21 errors – 165 attempts) to .148 (46-24-149) on the night.
Three juniors recorded double-figure kills for the Badgers. Ellen Chapman put up a match-high 20 kills, her third 20-plus match of the season. Dominique Thompson followed close behind with 19 kills, tying her career high, on an impressive .444 (19-3-36) attack, and Deme Morales added 12 kills. Courtney Thomas also added eight kills and a service ace to give the Badgers an extra push on offense.
Defensively, Wisconsin out-dug FSU 68-62. Morales tied for match-high honors with 16 digs, giving the junior her 17th double-double of the season. Senior Annemarie Hickey and freshman Lauren Carlini added 15 and 14 saves, respectively.
Carlini, who was recently minted Big Ten freshman of the year, commanded the offensive charge with 53 assists, recording her 20th career double-double.
At the net, Wisconsin was out-blocked 9-7 but gave up just two blocks in the final two sets. The Badgers were led by Thompson, who put up four blocks. Carlini added three stuffs for a well-rounded performance on the night.
Florida State (26-8) was led by sophomore Nicole Walch on both offense and defense. The 6-2 outside hitter was the only Seminole to record double-figure kills (16) and tied Morales for match-high honors with 16 digs. She also added three blocks for the 'Noles. Junior Katie Mosher added 15 digs, and senior Olivera Medic put up 14 saves on the match.
The Badgers took the initial lead of the first set, but the Seminoles were able to take their first and only lead at 5-4. Wisconsin then took control, going on an 11-3 run to up its advantage to 15-8. UW did not falter from there and went on to win 25-10, hitting .231 (16-7-39) despite five Florida State blocks. The Seminoles hit a negative .028 (7-8-36) in comparison.
The second set was much closer than the first with the Seminoles maintaining a lead for the majority of the period. The Badgers were able to pull ahead late at 20-19 and 21-20 but would lead by no more than one point. Wisconsin held off one set point at 24-22 on a kill from Chapman but FSU scored a kill to even the match.
The Seminoles once again took the lead in the third set, but a long rally gave the Badgers a 15-12 lead. Florida State cut the lead to one, including a 21-20 but Wisconsin doubled up the Seminoles over the stretch to win. Five kills from Thompson and a team attack percentage of .267 (16-4-45) keyed the win.
The Badgers saved their most dominant offensive performance for the last set, hitting .405 (18-3-37) to solidify a 10-point set win and match victory. Though FSU took an early lead, the Seminoles could not counter Wisconsin's strong attack and hit just .156 (11-6-32) on the period to send UW to the next round.
Wisconsin improves to 32-16 in 17 years of NCAA tournament play and will compete in the quarterfinals for the fifth time in program history.