MINNEAPOLIS — The 7th-ranked Wisconsin volleyball team went into its match with 5th-ranked Minnesota tonight with the chance to pull away into sole possession of first place in the Big Ten, and it did exactly that. The Badgers (18-5 overall, 14-1 Big Ten) won their second consecutive Border Battle match and notched their first win in the Maturi Pavillion since 2014, taking down the Gophers (19-4, 13-2) in four sets; 25-22, 23-25, 30-28, 29-27.
The Badgers had no shortage of offensive weapons to lean on, led by Molly Haggerty with a season-high 24 kills. Dana Rettke followed with 21 kills while Grace Loberg pitched in 19, both their respective second highest totals on the season. As a team Wisconsin hit .313 (82 kills – 21 errors – 195 attempts) while holding Minnesota to .284 (64 – 16 – 169).
The success of the hitters can be largely attributed to the work of All-American setter Sydney Hilley, who finished the match with an unprecedented 78 assists, blowing her previous career-high of 61 out of the water. The junior captain also added two kills, four blocks and six digs for the Badgers.
Senior libero Tiffany Clark posted a new season-best 25 digs, including numerous vital saves to keep Wisconsin alive in the long-running third and fourth sets. The back court was rounded out by junior Lauren Barnes and freshman Izzy Ashburn who added 14 and 11 digs, respectively, while Dana Rettke and Danielle Hart secured the net with five blocks a piece.
The lone blemish on the match for Wisconsin was a 13-4 tally in service errors, but the impressive offensive attack was enough to push the Badgers past the Gophers into sole possession of the Big Ten's top spot.
Straight from the Court
"Both teams are playing well. This is a tough place to come in and play, and I thought the mental toughness of a lot of our kids was really impressive. (Minnesota's) serving has gotten a lot better than the last time we played them, that ball is moving and dancing. They got (Lauren) Barnes a few times early, I know she was highly irritated about that, but I'm really proud of her – it had to be tough to come back in here, but defensively she was awfully good.
On the team's perseverance:
"Dana (Rettke) missed a serve towards the end, I know she was really upset with herself on that. (Madison) Duello was upset about one of her swings around the same time, and then they come back and tie it and get it to set point. When a team is coming back that far and you're at a place where they don't lose too often, it's tough. But we came back again, passed the ball really well and got some good swings, and we were able to get those last two points.
On the hitters' impressive performances:
"They were great, they were making smart plays. We didn't have the same blocking weaknesses that we saw a month ago. All of our hitters have worked really hard on being able to get their feet to the ball, take the ball high and be able to hit it with range, and you could see that all of them were feeling good all night. Molly (Haggerty) was chirping more than I've seen her do in a long time, she had a lot of swagger out there tonight." – Head Coach Kelly Sheffield
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Notes to Know
- The Badgers sweep Minnesota for the first time since 2014, when UW won its last Big Ten championship.
- Junior Sydney Hilley recorded a career-high 78 assists, which ties the UW all-time record for helpers in a four-set match.
- Junior Molly Haggerty led all players with a season-high 24 kills. Junior Dana Rettke added 21 kills marking the first time two UW players had 20-plus kills in the same match this season.
- Wisconsin recorded a season-high 82 kills, a school record under 25-point rally scoring. The Badgers also scored a school-record 95.0 points.
- Senior Tiffany Clark recorded a team-high 23 digs, her sixth straight match in double-figure saves.
The Badgers will look to maintain the Big Ten's top spot as Michigan State comes to the UW Field House on Saturday. The match will be live on BTN+ at 7 p.m. CT.