first_imgThe Badgers (14-9, 3-9) were hitting on all cylinders when they swept Michigan State (11-12, 3-9) in three sets on Friday night. The fans at the Field House had plenty to cheer about in the exciting match. It was the first sweep for Wisconsin since defeating Green Bay on Sept. 17.“I think this win tonight showed that we’ve made a lot of progress since we were last at Michigan State,” head coach Pete Waite said. “We’ve had two weeks of really good practices and really solid play in matches. It was good to see them be rewarded for their hard work and solid play.”The following night, Wisconsin faced a more difficult challenge against the No. 15 Michigan Wolverines (20-4,9-3). They lost in four sets, but they played tough throughout and showed resiliency.“I thought we were hanging in there really well,” Waite said. “Against good teams it comes down to a couple of errors here and there that get away from you.”The first two sets were very close, but Michigan held the lead for the majority of them and was able to finish.In the third set Wisconsin was able to get ahead early and change the momentum of the match.“I thought it was really good coming back in the third set with a really fast start,” Waite said. “We really did well, and unfortunately the reverse happened in the fourth. We got down big, and they were just serving some bullets, and we weren’t handling them very well.”Even in the fourth set, the Badgers didn’t go away very easily. Michigan took a 7-0 lead, but Wisconsin fought hard and didn’t allow Michigan to take the fourth set without a struggle.The Badgers’ toughness and resilience were evident this weekend in both matches.The first set against Michigan State was a hard fought battle between the teams. After multiple changes in momentum, Wisconsin eventually won the set 30-28.“I think it was really intense for us, because normally in sets like that we haven’t been able to hold on, but we definitely showed a lot of maturity,” sophomore Alexis Mitchell said. “Our blocking definitely picked up there at the end. That first set definitely set the tone for the rest of the match and we really wanted to win this game.”The match against Michigan was very similar to the first set against Michigan State. It was two teams playing equally well in close matches. Wisconsin just wasn’t able to finish the sets against Michigan as well they did Friday night.A big part of Wisconsin’s improved play can to be attributed to their blocking. They’ve emphasized on that being a major part of their game.“We’ve talked about it all year with our blocking, we just haven’t really been able to put it together,” Waite said. “We’ve really emphasized that everyday this week, and made sure that the players were getting a good feel for their technique and being patient but getting their hands across the net well.”Even in the loss Saturday night, Waite was very impressed with the team’s blocking. It was one of their best games blocking wise all season.In the third set against Michigan, Elise Walch had a key block that gave Wisconsin a 24-22 lead. The team won the set on the next point, so it’s obvious that blocking can be huge in important situations.Wisconsin showed they have the potential to play with any team; it’s just a matter of being able to finish close sets. The win on Friday followed by Saturday’s loss is evidence that finishing close sets is key to winning matches.last_img