New-look Badgers struggle in sweep

first_imgSophomore Allison Wack and the Badger volleyball team couldn\’t handle Iowa State on Saturday.[/media-credit]After struggling to play at a consistently high level from game to game and finishing the 2008 season with a 7-13 record in the Big Ten, the University of Wisconsin volleyball team was hoping for a fresh start with a spring exhibition match against Iowa State last Saturday.Failing to win any of the four sets played, the Badgers may want to postpone that fresh start for another week.Already dealing with the loss of three graduated seniors, redshirt senior Katherine Dykstra and junior setter Nikki Klingsporn, UW was limited throughout the week as minor health problems plagued the team.“It’s been a tough week for us,” UW head coach Pete Waite said. “The kids, a lot of them were sick this week and we almost cancelled this event because we didn’t have enough bodies.”The most notable missing player was leading scorer and senior-to-be Brittney Dolgner. After totaling 369 kills at a .219 hitting clip in the fall season, the loss of Dolgner had an obvious impact on the court.“Obviously Brittney sat out the whole thing,” Waite said. “Its again one of those things where we want to be smart and be healthy for the fall so we don’t want to risk anything with her going when she shouldn’t be going.”With Dolgner missing in action, Wisconsin and its new 5-1 offense was led by outside hitter Allison Wack and starting setter Janelle Gabrielsen. Wack led the Badgers with 16 kills and Gabrielsen finished with 30 of the team’s 32 assists, but UW finished with a measly -.104 hitting percentage.“[Allison] really today became the go-to hitter,” Waite said. “[Gabrielsen] was setting the ball well and she was scoring well … Someone like Jessa [Benson], she was playing on the left side where she’s really a setter and she had to play that role with Brittney being out. I think she did a good job, as best she could because she’s really never played left side before, so that was a little bit different.”Planning on running the 5-1 offense next fall, Waite’s team will have to get used to new roles quickly if they hope to make the transition from the 6-2 offense a smooth one.“It’s a little different for me with not hitting,” Gabrielsen said. “I think some people are getting used to new positions like Caity DuPont on the right side, so we are trying to get used to it right now and hopefully we will get better during the spring season.”Besides switching from the 6-2 offense — which features two setters — to the 5-1 scheme, UW has tweaked almost every other facet of their game.“We are actually doing a lot of things besides just the 5-1,” Wack said. “Just passing faster, hitting faster, tempo sets. We changed our blocking so it is kind of a little bit of everything.”Although the Badgers lost by at least five points in every set, the team was still upbeat when the exhibition was over. According to Waite, wins and losses mean very little when you are trying to prepare for the fall — especially considering how many players the team was without.“In general there were a couple good things that we saw out there but as a group we have to fight harder and make sure that we are playing the game the way it is supposed to be played, which is ball control with serving and passing,” Waite said.Even for an exhibition game, the Badgers and the Cyclones competed on unusually friendly terms. Some of it may have been because ISU head coach Christy Johnson previously served as an assistant coach under Waite at UW.“We have gone back and forth with Iowa State and Christy the last couple years,” Waite said. “We had a nice scrimmage this morning when we got some more experience on the court and she is a great friend and a former coach here, so she loves coming back.”last_img