Outside hitter Erin Fairs’ 16 kills were not enough as the No. 13-ranked Wisconsin Badgers outlasted the University of Louisville in the final match of the ACC/Big Ten Volleyball Challenge.
“We put up a great fight tonight,” said UofL head coach Anne Kordes. “There is no doubt that many of their points were from our lack of sustained focus rather than a lack of execution. Our younger players may be taken off guard by having to focus from point one through 25. That is why we play the schedule we do. We have had no easy matches and I love that. I am extremely happy and proud of my team. I loved how Aniah Philo gave us a nice spark off the bench. Our defense makes it hard for other teams to score and it is an exciting brand of volleyball to watch.”
The Cardinals hit .178 with eight blocks and five aces. Janelle Jenkins had a double-double with 12 kills and 13 digs, adding three blocks. Tess Clark had five blocks and Molly Sauer notched three aces. The Badgers were led by Kelli Bates’ 16 kills and 12 digs.
The Badgers had two long runs in the first set and .432 hitting made it difficult on the Cardinals to dig out. UW held the Cards to .154 hitting and outdug them 18-12. At the 13-13 tie, UW rattled off six straight points to go up 19-14 and although the Cards made a push powered by two successful slides by Maggie DeJong, they fell 25-19.
In the second set, Wisconsin’s hitting chilled to .188 while the Cards hit at a .441 clip, powered by Erin Fairs nine kills. A 7-1 run gave UofL a big momentum lift as the Badgers burned both their timeouts trying to get a handle on the Cardinal serve. The Badgers managed to push back with a run at 23-16 but it was too little, too late and a Tess Clark
Trailing early, the Cards tied at 18 in the third set but never had the lead as Wisconsin kept them at arm’s length, rolling to a 25-21 win to take a 2-1 set lead.
The Cardinals tied at eight in the fourth set but had their hands full as the Badgers had a five point rally on Taylor Morey’s serve to go up 18-12. Although the teams traded points down the stretch, the Cards were unable to string together a rally before falling 25-19.
The Cards play Utah Friday at 7:30 in the first round of the Active Ankle Challenge to be held in Cardinal Arena as Seton and Ohio University visit.