After something of a shaky start, the University of Wisconsin volleyball team came on strong to close out the
with a four-set victory over Purdue on Sunday at Lake Central High School in St. John, Indiana.
had 16 kills to lead the attack for the Badgers, who finished the spring with a 2-1 record after a 17-25, 25-15, 25-13, 25-20 victory over the Boilermakers.
“We got hammered in the first set,” coach Kelly Sheffield said. “I would say Purdue defended at a higher level than we did to start out. They probably did about everything at a higher level than us in the first set. Then I thought we started playing a lot better.
“I’d say everybody had some moments for both teams. Purdue is a really good team, really young, really talented. I thought defensively we picked up in the last three sets, at the net and in the back row.”
The Badgers hit .270 for the match while holding Purdue to .085.
As they have throughout the spring, the Badgers played with a makeshift lineup, with Devyn Robinson joining fellow starters Sarah Franklin and Caroline Crawford on the sidelines, along with Ella Wrobel and Saige Damrow. All are dealing with some level of injuries, although none of them are expected to have a lasting impact.
“We’ve got quite a few players that if we were in the fall, they’d be playing,” Sheffield said. “There’s no players that we have any concerns about. We’re totally fine with letting some others get some experience.”
One of those players is middle blocker Gabby McCaa, who was sidelined most of last season with a leg injury after transferring from Boston College, seeing action in just two sets. She got a chance to play when Crawford was injured this spring.
“She came in with a lot of experience but people don’t get to see her play,” Sheffield said. “She did a really good job.”
“She’s ferocious,” he said. “She has this great presence. She communicates great on the court and is just really driven and getting more comfortable with what we’re doing.”
Sheffield said two of the major areas of emphasis this spring have been improving the backcourt defense and passing. He said libero Gulce Guctekin, who had 24 digs, and defensive specialists Joslyn Boyer and Sydney Reed had their best performances of the spring.
He also was pleased with the play of setters MJ Hammill and Izzy Ashburn, who played in a 5-1 attack rather than the 6-2 they’ve been playing over the past year. Hammill set the first two sets and Ashburn the last two with each serving as a DS when not setting.
Outside hitter Liz Gregorski, who is transferring to Kansas State in the fall, had 13 kills and hit .313 in her final appearance with the Badgers.
Sheffield said the team will shift to individual or small group work and focus on the weight room before ramping up in late May in preparation for their European tour the first two weeks of June.
“It’s been a really good spring,” he said. “We got quite a bit out of it. They got after it in the weight room and the practice gym and the things we were working on I thought got better.”
Photos: Wisconsin volleyball faces Athletes Unlimited in spring exhibition