A new champion has been crowned in college volleyball! The Wisconsin Badgers defeated Big Ten rival Nebraska in a five-set thriller to claim the program’s first national title.
Nebraska came out hot, taking the first set 25-22. However, Wisconsin rallied back in set two, winning 31-29. The teams continued to trade sets, with the Badgers winning set three 25-23. Nebraska won set four, keeping their season alive and pushing the match to a fifth set. The Badgers jumped out to a 6-0 lead in set five, but Nebraska battled back, pushing the score to 14-12. After a Wisconsin timeout, the Badgers ended the match on a Dana Rettke kill, securing the long-awaited first title.
A gritty defensive match, both teams hit under .200 and combined for 172 digs. The Badgers put on a blocking clinic, setting a national title game record with 24 on the night.
Freshman Anna Smrek led the Badgers with 14 kills, hitting a phenomenal .429. National Player of the Year Dana Rettke added 11 kills and 13 blocks. As a team, Wisconsin hit .183. Setter Sydney Hilley dished out 51 assists, and libero Lauren Barnes recorded 31 of Wisconsin’s 79 digs.
Nebraska’s Madi Kubik paced the Cornhuskers with a match high 19 kills.
Wisconsin’s senior class — including Dana Rettke, Sydney Hilley, Lauren Barnes, Grace Loberg, and Giorgia Civita — will leave as one of the most accomplished and decorated classes in Wisconsin Volleyball history. Coming back for a fifth season after the NCAA granted athletes an extra year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the super seniors accomplished their ultimate goal: to win a national title. They have forever cemented themselves as some of the best to ever wear a Wisconsin jersey and will leave the program as champions.
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