Big Ten 2023, News.

Wisconsin Week 6 Preview

Reigning Big Ten champions Wisconsin will play Michigaan State and Minnesota this week (Photo: Wisconsin)

Reigning Big Ten champions Wisconsin aren’t used to losses during the regular season, but they had to deal with one last Saturday, falling to rivals Nebraska, and will be looking to give a strong answer when they get back on the court this week.

The Badgers will be in action twice over the next three days, facing Michigan State on the road on Friday, at 19:00 local time (23:00 UTC), and Minnesota at home on Sunday. The first duel will be streamed live for VBTV subscribers around the world.

  • Watch the Big Ten Volleyball matches live on VBTV.

Saturday’s five-set loss to Nebraska was just the first for Wisconsin in 19 matches this season and the second in Big Ten duels considering the last two seasons. The defeat interrupted a series of 27 consecutive wins in Big Ten matches and also stopped the team's best-ever start to a season.

The result pushed Wisconsin to second place in the Big Ten with nine wins and one loss and also made the Cornhuskers take the top spot in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) rankings from the Badgers. For Wisconsin, the best way to put the defeat in the past would be to show their strength with a pair of wins this weekend, starting with the duel against Michigan State on Friday.

“Coming into the Nebraska match, we knew it was going to be one that, winning or losing, there would be a lot to learn from and we did learn,” Wisconsin head coach Kelly Sheffield said. “We knew that whatever happened, we would still need to continue working to get better and that’s what we will do. Michigan State haven’t been in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten for a few years and they are now. Their coaching staff is in its second year and it feels like they’re starting to get their momentum and to build confidence. They’ve done a great job and are having a really good season. You can tell they’re just getting stronger going forward.”

Wisconsin have obtained 57 wins and 28 losses in matches against Michigan State and have prevailed in each of the last eight encounters, having last fallen to the Spartans back in 2017.

Senior outside hitter Sarah Franklin has been leading the Badgers offensively with 248 kills while sophomore middle Carter Booth has been a force at the net, with 99 blocks, the second-highest mark among Big Ten players.

Michigan State showing progress

As pointed out by Sheffield, the Spartans are having a solid season, ranking seventh in the Big Ten with five wins and five losses and have already surpassed the number of victories they obtained in the last three seasons. Last weekend, they topped in-state rivals for the second time in the season, but lost to Minnesota.

Freshman New Zealander outside hitter Taylah Holdem has proved to be a great addition for the Spartans, leading the team in kills (273), while senior libero Nalani Iosia has been solid on the backcourt with 333 digs, ranking second in the Big Ten in the skill.

Besides the duel between Wisconsin and Michigan State, the encounter between Nebraska and Maryland, set to start at 20:00 local time (00:00 UTC, Saturday), also on Friday, will be streamed live for VBTV subscribers around the world as well.

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