Volleyball sees improvement despite loss to Ohio

first_imgWith eight new players on its roster, the Wisconsin volleyball team could view its performance in the InnTowner Invitational as a success. Despite losing to the Ohio Bobcats in four sets Sunday, the Badgers showed signs of improvement throughout the tournament.After getting swept by Duke in their first match of the weekend, the Badgers returned the favor to visiting South Dakota the following day. In the tournament finale, UW took on the Ohio Bobcats, who had swept Duke only a day earlier.In the first set against the Bobcats, junior Allison Wack and freshman Kirby Toon led the Badgers with four and three kills, respectively. After battling back and forth to an 18-18 tie, the Badgers pulled away, taking the set, 25-19.“I think we were just playing steady ball; we kept our composure,” UW head coach Pete Waite said. “We had really good matchups with the block.”While Ohio was able to hold off UW over the next three sets, Waite saw a great improvement over the games earlier in the weekend.“I wish we could have come out and gotten that second and third game,” Waite said. “But overall, we saw a lot of good things, a lot of progress over the weekend. Our middles improved every match. Our middles today did great, and it is our testament to them, going to them so much. It also shows that our ball handlers are doing their jobs well and improved a ton from last year.”After dominating the second set, the Bobcats looked poised to take their second set when they took a 22-15 lead in the third. However, the Badgers battled back to tie the set at 25-25, but it wasn’t enough to hold off Ohio, who won the set 29-27.“We had a shot at it and wished we would have had that one,” Waite said. “But we had a chance (in set) four and would have (had a chance) at five. That is something we need to be better at and be tougher about at that point.”In the fourth set, the Badgers were unable to slow down the Bobcats, who were helped by a match-high 19 kills from senior and tournament MVP Ellen Herman. After several competitive rallies, Ohio pulled away to take the final set, 25-21.While a win would have been ideal for the Badgers, the tournament did provide a much-needed source of competition unseen in practice. Aside from undergoing a team makeover, UW also changed its offensive scheme from a 6-2 to a 5-1, with only one passer — Janelle Gabrielsen — to set up her teammates.“I have been working really hard on running the 5-1 since last year,” Gabrielsen said. “It actually feels good because I feel like I’m improving every day and the team is improving every day.”Gabrielsen, who was awarded all-tournament honors, finished the match with 38 assists, while Toon and Wack led the Badgers with 9 and 16 kills, respectively. Toon, a freshman, noted just how important the tournament was to the team, despite not performing as well as it would have liked.“I think that now that we’ve played someone other than ourselves we have gotten to know how everyone plays and have gotten really comfortable with each other.”For Waite, coaching a team with eight new players is a first in his 21-year coaching career. However, keeping in mind his goal of improving every day, he saw the tournament as a step in the right direction.“I think a weekend like this helps them start the next week with even more determination to work hard in every aspect of their games individually and as a team,” Waite said. “Our goal is to keep getting better each week.”last_img read more