Reigning NCAA champions Wisconsin completed their Big Ten regular season schedule with a pair of impressive road wins this weekend to secure the conference title and book their tickets for the NCAA Division I National Championship, which will conclude the American collegiate season in December.
Wisconsin claim fourth consecutive Big Ten title
Nebraska, Minnesota, Ohio State, Penn State and Purdue will also play the National Championship
Pubblicato 08:09, 28 Nov 2022
The Badgers entered the tenth and final weekend of the regular season at the top of the Big Ten standings and confirmed their position with two solid road wins over second-placed Nebraska and third-placed Ohio State.
Wisconsin have now won their fourth-straight Big Ten title. They are only the second team to claim such a winning streak, joining Penn State, who won the titles from 1996 to 1999 and from 2003 to 2010.
Joining the Badgers, Big Ten teams Nebraska, Minnesota, Ohio State, Penn State and Purdue will also compete in the National Championship, which will be played from December 1-17, after they were selected to participate by the Division I Women’s Volleyball Committee. The Final Four tournament will be held in Omaha, Nebraska, from December 15-17.
Wisconsin started the weekend with a 3-1 (25-21, 21-25, 25-21, 25-19) win over Nebraska on Friday and followed that up with another four-set (25-22, 25-17, 19-25, 27-25) triumph against Ohio State on Saturday. The two wins meant the Badgers ended their Big Ten season with 19 wins and a single loss, tying their best-ever campaign.
“It's so hard to win these things,” head coach Kelly Sheffield said. “We do not take it for granted. The competition that we have coming into every week and to be able to win in front of this crowd is something that earlier in the year, we wouldn't have been able to do. But being able to see this team grow and come together, it's been great.”
In both matches, the team was led by sophomore middle blocker Anna Smrek, junior middle blocker Devyn Robinson and sophomore outside hitter Sarah Franklin. Smrek produced 35 points (22 kills, 13 blocks) across both matches, while Robinson added 30 (25 kills, five blocks) and Franklin tallied another 26 (24 kills, two blocks).
The NCAA National Championship will reunite 64 teams (the 32 conference winners and another 32 selected by the Division I Women’s Volleyball Committee) that will compete for the national title in the single elimination format playoffs.
Wisconsin will play Quinnipiac in their first round match, on December 2. On the same day, Minnesota will face Southeastern Louisiana, Ohio State will meet Tennessee State, Purdue will challenge Tennessee and Penn State will go against the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). Nebraska will be the only Big Ten team to play on December 1, when they are up against Delaware State.