first_img[media-credit name=”Jen Small” align=”alignright” width=”336″][/media-credit]The Wisconsin Badgers played another strong fight to bring home a 3-1 win against the Ohio State Buckeyes in their final home match of the regular season at the University of Wisconsin Field House after falling to No. 2 Penn State 3-0 Friday.The Badgers tallied a 23-25, 25-18, 25-21, 25-21 victory over the Buckeyes leaving them at 20-8 overall and 9-7 in the Big Ten Conference. This is the Badgers first 20-win season since 2007.As the Badgers celebrated senior libero Annemarie Hickey’s final match at the UW Field House, they put on an aggressive offensive performance with four players recording double-figure digs and hit more than .300.“I thought our attackers were really aggressive today and smart. They went with the flow and executed with confidence. It was a great offensive performance by our hitters,” head coach Kelly Sheffield said. “We had a really balanced match. I thought we just played good volleyball today.”Junior Courtney Thomas led the team hitting .417 on the match followed by Ellen Chapman with .357, Haleigh Nelson with .340 and Dominique Thompson with .333 to bring together a dominant Badger offense.“Our hitters were really varying where they were hitting on the net,” freshman setter Lauren Carlini said. “We were running a lot of different plays. I think this definitely helped as far as keeping the other team off balance.”The Badgers were very unified and executed their game plan both physically and accurately. Thomas was pleased with the team’s performance.“Our hitters were just swinging with confidence, a lot of confidence tonight,” Thomas said. “When we are like that we are literally unstoppable.”Along with the strong offense, the Badgers also held the court with a strong defensive end. Hickey led the team with 15 digs and recorded a perfect 1.000 on 34 service receptions and no errors. Hickey was honored in a pre-match ceremony as the lone senior to play on Senior Night, but let nothing down as she led the team to a victory for their last home match.“Anne is a rock,” Sheffield said. “She is the same, is the same, is the same. She is going to bring it every night.”The Badgers brought down the Buckeyes with a neck and neck fight throughout much of the third set, but closed it down in game four to bring home an emotional victory.“You know we came out there fighting and really wanted to beat the Buckeyes,” Hickey said. “We really put pressure on the other team and showed them that we could finish.”Badgers fall to No. 2 Penn State.Just two nights earlier, the Field House turned into a battleground on Friday night as the Wisconsin Badgers faced the No. 2 Penn State Nittany Lions. With a season high crowd of 5,897 fans, the Badgers fell to the Lions in a 25-23, 27-25, 25-16 loss.“I thought we played pretty well today,” said head coach Kelly Sheffield. “[Penn State] was very inspired defensively. I guess that’s the best way to put it. I thought we battled really hard.”Despite the loss, the Badgers fought hard, holding Penn State to an even performance. The Lions looked like they were going to take the first set, quickly jumping to a 5-1 lead but the Badgers battled back with a 9-3 run, bringing the score to 21-22. The Badgers held off two set points, but finally a kill from the Lions finished off the set.That momentum carried over to game two. The set went back and forth with a total of 19 ties and 10 lead changes. Deme Morales brought the Badgers to set point with a kill. A service error from the Lions tied up the score, but the Badgers could not convert the set, Penn State took game two.Junior Dominique Thompson was an aggressive player for the Badgers Friday. She put away eight kills in the second set alone. With long rallies in each set, the momentum changed from the Lions to the Badgers with both teams putting up a strong fight.“I would say our biggest challenge is that they are big hitters,” Thompson said. “Just coming back and moving on after those big hits, that’s what we had to work for the most.”Freshmen setter Lauren Carlini was very mobile Friday, moving around a lot during each set.“You could tell both teams were tired and out of breath after those long rallies. It’s nice to see, everyone is going all out and giving all they’ve got,” Carlini said.Defense was the deal breaker, however, with the Lions recording 12 team blocks, with 6-foot-6  middle blocker Katie Slay shutting down eight of those blocks.“That’s probably the biggest blocker in the country going up against the smallest outside hitter in the country. You know Deme [Morales] is a warrior, but that’s a tough thing to do,” Sheffield said.last_img