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UW to host Hawkeyes with 7-game win streak on line

first_imgAfter coming off of a two-match sweep against Minnesota, the No. 5 Wisconsin volleyball team (16-2, 7-1 Big Ten) returns to the UW Field House Wednesday to face Iowa (9-10 overall, 1-7 Big Ten) in another Big Ten battle.This past Sunday, Iowa finally ended its eight-game losing streak by defeating Northwestern in five sets. Although the Hawkeyes have not found a way to emerge victorious from the court, it does not necessarily mean that they are a team unworthy of recognition. They just haven’t found their footing yet, according to Wisconsin head coach Kelly Sheffield.“They’re playing the game a lot quicker,” Sheffield said. “It’s a high-energy team that’s playing the best ball they’ve played all year long, and they’re starting to figure out the new coach’s system and what he’s wanting.”The 2014-15 year is Bond Shymansky’s first as the head coach of Iowa. For the past five years from 2009-2013, Shymansky was the head coach of Marquette. He was able to transform that program and lead it down a path of many victories, including taking the team to multiple post-season appearances and the Big East regular season title, along with the Big East tournament championship title in 2013. Although he has not produced many wins this season for the Hawkeyes, it does not mean that his team is not one on the rise.“Iowa is playing well right now,” right-side hitter Courtney Thomas said. “Results aren’t necessarily showing, but they’re playing well, and they’ve got a great coach behind them.”During a news conference after Sunday’s match, Shymansky said his team was successful through mixing things up on offense by distributing the ball between multiple hitters. The top two hitters for the Hawkeyes so far this season are outside hitter Alex Lovell, averaging 3.08 kills per set, and middle blocker/outside hitter Lauren Brobst, who averages 2.71 kills per set. Brobst currently has 94 kills so far this season, 42 more kills than the second-best hitter on Iowa.“She can bring some heat,” Sheffield said of Brobst. “You try to get your hands in areas that she wants to attack, and hopefully you’re not giving her too many of her first and second preferred shots. She’s got an arm. That’s a good player.”In order for Wisconsin to have the upper hand, Sheffield said his players need to do everything that they can to prevent Iowa from getting into a groove and running the quick offense that they’ve started to get a knack for.“When they’re in system they can do a lot of good things,” Sheffield said. “You have to find ways to keep them out of system because they’re trying to run things a lot quicker than a lot of other teams in the conference are. So [we] have to serve in a way to keep them out of system.”Iowa’s record and recent losing streak aren’t truly indicative of the Hawkeyes’ of capability. After losing a close match against No. 15 Illinois in five sets, and then successfully snagging the tight victory against Northwestern, the Hawkeyes are beginning to connect on offense with a faster pace and play as a team with nothing to lose and everything to gain as they travel to Madison this Wednesday.“That underdog identity has an advantage, because they go into matches feeling like they have nothing to lose because they’re trying to prove to everyone who they are,” Wisconsin middle blocker Haleigh Nelson said. “That’s a really powerful identity to have so that’s going to be an advantage to them, because they’re going to come in with a lot of fire.”The Badgers have dropped only one set over their last seven straight victories. As Wisconsin looks toward its match against Iowa, they rely on hard work and strategy, but also appreciate and feed off of the exuberant support of their fans. The Badgers currently rank third in the nation in attendance per game, averaging 4,768 fans per match.“Our crowd is incredible. No matter who’s here or how many there are, they always make a huge difference,” Nelson said. “They carry us when we’re down, they carry us when we’re losing and when we’re winning. Just that energy can intimidate the other team and also helps keep us going.”last_img

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