Upset Alert: Wisconsin Stuns No. 1 Nebraska with First Loss of 2023 Volleyball Season

Even though the Huskers have already secured the Big Ten championship, this conference rivalry promises to be intense. Both the Badgers and Huskers, as dominant top-5 teams this season, have a lot at stake during this matchup. Nebraska prevailed in a hard-fought five-set battle against Wisconsin in October, leading them to an unbeaten record of 27-0 and the undisputed AVCA No. 1 ranking heading into the postseason. On the other hand, Wisconsin has suffered two losses since their last encounter with Nebraska, boasting a 24-3 record for the year.

The Battle in Five Sets

The tenacity and competitiveness of these rivals are evident in their performances. The Badgers have faced five five-set matches this season, and their match against Nebraska on Oct. 21 resulted in the most number of blocks (18) but the least amount of kills (52) in a five-set game. Conversely, Nebraska has been pushed to five sets three times this season, with their match against Wisconsin resulting in their worst statistical performance in terms of kills and blocks.

Offensive and Defensive Showdown

Wisconsin’s strong blocking lineup poses a challenge for Nebraska. The Badgers lead the nation with an average of 3.01 blocks per set, primarily led by Carter Booth and Caroline Crawford. In their previous encounter, Booth and Crawford’s exceptional blocking disrupted Nebraska’s momentum, providing Wisconsin with the edge in the game.

Nebraska’s offensive prowess has been outstanding, outperforming the Badgers in kills in every set of their last encounter except for one. However, the difference lies in their hitting percentages, with Nebraska committing more errors and subsequently having a lower hitting percentage compared to Wisconsin. Both teams have proven to be formidable opponents, making this upcoming battle highly anticipated.

Despite Wisconsin’s recent setbacks, the return of Anna Smrek has reinvigorated the team, signaling that they are ready to face their undefeated opponents once again. The Badgers are determined to put up a fight against the No. 1 team in the country, while the Huskers strive to maintain their flawless record.


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