Wisconsin made sure there would be no undefeated champion in college volleyball this season. The number four Badgers and number one Louisville Cardinals battled back and forth all night in the National Semifinal match. Wisconsin prevailed victorious and upset Louisville in a five set thriller. They will play for the program’s first ever national title on Saturday night.
Wisconsin took set one 25-23. However, top-seeded Louisville responded, dominating set two 25-15. The Badgers went up 2-1 after winning set three 25-21. The Cardinals responded yet again and won set four 25-23 to keep their season alive and push the match to five sets. The fifth set was close early, but the Wisconsin pulled away to win 15-9.
Anna Smrek led the Badgers with 20 kills, hitting an incredible .704 on the night. The freshman had the match of her early career at the right time for Wisconsin. Dana Rettke finished with 14 kills and eight of UW’s 11 blocks. Wisconsin out-hit Louisville .280 to .230. Setter Sydney Hilley dished out 58 assists on the night, while libero Lauren Barnes added seven assists and 19 digs. The Badgers committed 14 service errors, something they will have to clean up for their next match.
Anna DeBeer led the Cardinals with 20 kills. Louisville was 32-0 coming into the program’s first appearance in the Final Four. The Cardinals were looking to become the first undefeated champion since Penn State in 2009.
Wisconsin will face the winner of tonight’s second semifinal match between Nebraska and Pittsburgh in the National Championship match. This will be the last time Badger fans will see Dana Rettke, Sydney Hilley, Grace Loberg, and Lauren Barnes in Wisconsin uniforms. The first serve is set for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.