Ohio State, Penn State end UW’s unbeaten streak

first_imgNo. 2 Penn State was just too much for Wisconsin to handle, as the Nittany Lions won the match in straight sets at the Field House.[/media-credit]Wisconsin volleyball head coach Pete Waite knew this weekend, the opening weekend in Big Ten play, would be difficult. He hoped, however, that his young team could rise to the challenge.Although the Badgers (11-2, 0-2) fought hard against both Ohio State (13-2, 1-1) Friday night and Penn State (11-2, 1-1) yesterday afternoon, they were not able to pick up a conference win after starting the season with a perfect 11-0 record.“In the Big Ten, you say this is a big week because every week is a big week,” Waite said. “It’s so strong that every win you can get is huge for the conference race and the NCAA tournament.”In front of two of its biggest crowds of the season, the Badgers succumbed to defeat against the No. 25 Buckeyes and No. 2 Nittany Lions.The Badgers fought especially hard Friday night against Ohio State, losing 3-2 in five sets (15-25, 25-16, 23-25, 25-23, 11-15). Wisconsin led midway through the fifth game before Buckeye libero Sarah Mignin went on an extended serving streak to put the Buckeyes ahead for good. Mignin had a similar streak late in game two which brought the Buckeyes back after trailing by as many as seven points.Some miscommunication occurred when two Wisconsin players let the ball drop just outside the eight-foot-line for an Ohio State point late in game five. Senior Allison Wack and freshman Annemarie Hickey gave hesitant looks to each other as they both watched the ball fall to the ground.The play proved to be a huge momentum swing in the set as the Buckeyes closed out the match just moments later.Wack put the blame on herself and admitted a senior leader needs to take control in that situation.“That was just hesitation, I think it was mostly me,” Wack said. “I just thought [Hickey] was going, she thought I was going. I just need to be loud and take it.”Wack, playing in her last Big Ten home opener, showed emotion and remorse immediately following the game.“I mean we had it, we were right there, so there was obviously a little regret of just missing some things and being a little hesitant,” Wack said.Ultimately, Ohio State’s height upfront proved to be too much for Wisconsin’s middle blockers.Mariah Booth and Allie Schwarzwalder, the last two Big Ten defensive players of the week, led the Buckeyes to 12 team blocks. Despite strong efforts from both Wack and freshman Elise Walch, the Badgers were never quite able to find rhythm on offense.The strong blocking effort was especially crucial in the match-deciding fifth game, though the lineup on the floor stayed the same.“I don’t know if they made any special adjustments, I think every set was slightly different inside or outside, and the block was able to set up different ways,” Waite said. “You know it’s a big athletic block out there so they did get a few blocks towards the end of the sets and it made a difference, but our hitters can respond and at times they can.”A rough loss for the Badgers, but a strong morale victory for the team that they hoped would result in momentum for their Sunday showdown with the three time defending national champion Penn State team.Welcoming the Lady Lions to the Fieldhouse yesterday afternoon, the Badgers showed they can compete with a team of their stature but were ultimately swept 3-0 (16-25, 17-25, 21-25).The silver lining for the Badgers was improving their point total in each set, but at times, the Badgers looked overmatched, hesitant and timid against the highest ranked team they’ve played all year.The losses were difficult to endure, but coach Waite and the team vowed to put this weekend behind them and continue to compete.“We always focus on one match, and that’s all you can do in any sport,” Waite said.last_img

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