Badgers sweep Phoenix en route to 11-0 record

first_imgAllison Wack and the Badgers have matched the program\’s best start after beating UW-Green Bay to move to 11-0 on the season.[/media-credit]In its final non-conference tune-up before Big Ten play begins, the Wisconsin volleyball team looked sharp, sweeping the UW-Green Bay Phoenix 3-0 (25-9, 25-18, 25-20).The Badgers (11-0) came out firing in the first game, as Alexis Mitchell led the team through a 13-0 run after the game was initially tied at 6-6.Going on such an impressive run midway through the first game took some of the energy out of the Phoenix (3-10).“I think in the first game it started off when [Mitchell] went on her big run, I mean it really decreased the energy on the other side of the court and that just gave us a lot of confidence to really be going after things,” senior Allison Wack said. “I think we did it through our play, we were sticking our passes and our middles were getting up and hitting really hard high shots.”The undefeated start for the team, tied for the best start in school history, is the best start for the program since before head coach Pete Waite was hired. The 1996 team finished with a 25-8 record and an NCAA appearance.While the start seems impressive on paper, the undefeated start may be slightly diminished because the level of play has been significantly lower than what they will face in conference play.Despite this, coach Waite said he does not believe the team’s opening run is tainted.“There would be some years where we wouldn’t have won these matches, some of them were very tight and some of them we’ve had to come from behind and that’s a real challenge,” Waite said after practice last Tuesday. “We’ve got a lot of young players that are learning a lot in every one of those situations.”The inexperience of the team certainly has been a challenge for them, but the young players have responded with solid play.Freshman Julie Mikaelsen, still adjusting to American life in her first month away from her native Norway, finished with eight kills in limited action.Mikaelsen, who seemed to use the angle more than usual, led the way in the third game after sitting out the entire second game, accumulating five kills as the team completed the sweep. Although Mikaelsen seemed to be forcing the angle, it didn’t appear to be a strategy so much as it was what the defense was giving her.“It’s up to each hitter, what they’re comfortable with, what the set gives them and what they see the block doing,” Waite said. “She’s just getting more comfortable on the attack everyday and the setters are doing a good job of getting her the ball.”Wack led the team with 11 kills, and middle blocker Alexis Mitchell had a monster game in the middle.In addition to strong hitting, the blocking seemed sharp and precise. Both coach Waite and Mitchell said that blocking was something they worked extensively on during the practice week.“We actually really worked on it a lot this week, we worked on a lot of fast hands across the net, closing our block,” Mitchell said. “We had a pretty good scouting report on where their hitters were gonna go and I think we did a good job.”The team played in front of its largest crowd this year, with a surprisingly large student section. Coined the “Block Party,” the student section included a small band and the full array of cheers and taunts normally reserved for the Kohl Center at men’s basketball games.A strong crowd and intimidating student section is something the team craves, citing the strong home court advantage it would bring.“The student section was fantastic; it was awesome to see them here,” Waite said. “They’ll understand that once Big Ten play starts it gets a lot more intense in here and we would love to have them out more often because they really help out on that end line.”last_img