SEATTLE -- It was its toughest challenge of the season but fourth-ranked Wisconsin downed No. 10 USC (21-25, 25-17, 25-17, 25-21) in the opening round of the Pac-12/Big Ten Showcase on Thursday night.
“I thought we made some excellent defensive plays there at the end, [Taylor] Morey and [Kelli] Bates especially,” head coach Kelly Sheffield said. “We got good touches at the net, made great digs and executed in transition.
“We beat a top-10 team and we felt that there were aspects of our game where we didn’t play very well. That’s why you play elite teams because you want to find out what you have to work on. I was proud of how we fought back in game four. We had some huge plays when the game was on the line.”
Despite a strong serving performance by the Trojans, Wisconsin won the match with a balanced offensive attack. Four players put away 10-or-more kills behind a match-high 14 from Courtney Thomas. Haleigh Nelson (12), Dominique Thompson (12) and Kelli Bates (11) all added double digits while Ellen Chapman chipped in nine kills.
“We thought we could have some success in the middle and back behind [the setter] and we did,” Sheffield added. “I thought Bates did a great job of hitting against an awfully big block. We tried getting our middles and right sides involved. I thought Lauren [Carlini] did a great of executing our game plan.”
Wisconsin finished with an 88-65 advantage in digs behind career highs from Morey and Bates. Morey led all players with 29 saves while Bates added 19 digs for her second career double-double. Thomas (14 digs) and Carlini (10 digs) also recorded double-doubles.