Wisconsin loses heartbreaker to Purdue


first_imgSenior captain Brittney Dolgner ended her career on a sour note, watching from the sidelines as UW fell to the Boilermakers.[/media-credit]It was a frustrating end to a frustrating season for the Wisconsin volleyball team as the Badgers lost their season finale in five sets to the Purdue Boilermakers at the Field House.After Purdue took the first two sets by a score of 25-23 and 25-19, UW answered with an impressive 25-15 win in the third set and 25-20 result in the fourth, forcing a fifth set. The Boilermakers escaped Madison with the season-ending victory as they took the final set 15-11 over the Badgers.“I was real proud of how they battled to come back to the fifth (set),” head coach Pete Waite said. “I just wish they could have been rewarded by winning that fifth and getting it done here tonight for the seniors or for the whole team finishing off the season.”Wisconsin was shorthanded from the beginning Saturday night after losing freshman Kirby Toon to an injured left thumb a night earlier. Toon’s absence forced UW to alter its lineup, which may have led to the Badgers’ slow start.The Badgers’ attack was abysmal in the first set as they finished with just a .098 hitting percentage and just 14 kills to 10 errors. Purdue was not much better, but the Boilermakers hit .114 in the first set, which allowed them to escape with the 25-23 result.UW continued to struggle in the second set but improved as the Badgers hit .212. Unfortunately for Wisconsin, the Purdue attack had its best set on the night, hitting .375 with just four errors to 16 kills, which allowed PU to take the 25-19 win and a two-set lead.Despite the slow start, Waite was happy with the way his team reacted to the loss of Toon.“It is tough … but I think they really stepped up and adjusted well,” Waite said of his team. “Especially someone like Mary Ording, who has hardly practiced on the right all season and yet we asked her to do that, and she did well. Kelsey Maloney (had a) great match — 10 kills and one error.”“I think just everyone has to step their game up a little bit,” freshman Alexis Mitchell added. “Mary did a great job coming in on the right side. She stepped it up for us and got some big blocks at the end there.”Mitchell led the UW attack, tallying 15 kills to just three errors for a .375 hitting percentage on the night, which was second only to Maloney. Ording and Maloney were especially important as they helped UW bounce back after dropping the first two sets.With the team struggling through the first two sets, Waite changed things up beginning with the third set, including removing seniors Brittney Dolgner and Caity DuPont in favor of younger players.Waite’s changes worked, as the Badgers dominated the third set, 25-15 to extend the match to a fourth set. UW had 13 kills to just three errors in the third, improving their percentage again as the Boilermakers hit just .108, their worst in any set on the night.“I think our serve receive picked up a lot,” Dolgner said. “Tougher serving and keeping them out of their offense was definitely a key factor in that. And then we were just blocking a lot more balls and just being really scrappy and picking up a lot of our defense.”The fourth set was not quite as easy as the third, but the Badgers still came out on top, 25-20, in order to force a fifth and final set, which would be the last of their season.It looked like UW could finally get a victory and avoid ending the year on nine match losing streak and a home loss, but the Boilermakers responded well in the final set.After the two teams battled to a 7-7 tie, Purdue took control, scoring four straight points and forcing a UW timeout.Although the Badgers battled back to cut the lead to three points at 13-10 and again at 14-11, they couldn’t escape the Field House with a win Saturday, falling 15-11 in the final set.With nine straight losses to end the season, Wisconsin will not compete in its second straight NCAA Tournament, the first time the Badgers have missed back-to-back tournaments since 1988-89.“That’s no fun; we want to stop that,” Waite said of the losing streak. “But I think the team has stayed really positive throughout the whole last half of the Big Ten season. They continued to work hard … looking to next year, they’ll be much more experienced and savvy on the court.”last_img read more