Elite Eight Bound: Badgers terminate Toreros in three sets

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (UW RELEASE) -- The sixth-seeded Wisconsin volleyball team is headed to the NCAA Elite Eight after sweeping San Diego in the regional semifinals. The Badgers downed the Toreros 25-13, 25-16, 25-10, Friday afternoon at Huff Hall.

Wisconsin (25-6) out muscled San Diego (18-13) all three sets to punch its ticket to the regional finals. The Badgers sided out at 80 percent and used multiple long offensive scoring runs, including a 7-0 rally at the end of the first set and a another 7-0 run near the end of the third set, to terminate the Toreros.

UW hit a season-best .515 (38 kills – 4 errors – 66 attempts) while holding USD to a .045 (28-24-89) hitting percentage. Sophomore Dana Rettke paced the offense with nine kills while senior Tionna Williams and sophomore Dana Rettke both added eight kills apiece.

The Badgers also flexed their muscles at the net, out blocking San Diego, 15-2. Williams led all players with 10 stuffs, including her 500th career block. With such strong blocking, Wisconsin recorded only 26 digs in the match while the Toreros tallied only 20 saves.

Seven service aces propelled Wisconsin through today’s match. The Badgers served seven aces while only allowing three. Junior Madison Duello and sophomore Grace Loberg each tallied two aces.

Notes to know
• The Badgers recorded a season-high .515 hitting percentage (38K – 4E – 66 TA) against the Toreros, which ranks second on the UW single-match record list under 25-point rally scoring.
• Senior Tionna Williams picked up career block No. 500 against USD. The 6-foot-2 middle blocker finished with a match-high 10 blocks, including one solo. Her 10 blocks tie for second on the UW single-match record list. Williams has 508 blocks in her fourth season.
• Wisconsin outblocked the Toreros 15-2, which ties for third on the school’s single-match record list.
• UW improves to 46-21 in its 22nd NCAA tournament appearance, including 18-5 in its sixth year under head coach Kelly Sheffield. The Badgers also improve to 9-7 in the Sweet 16 with Saturday’s victory.
• Wisconsin won its ninth match in a row, its longest winning streak since 2016 when it won 10 matches in a row.
• Sophomore Dana Rettke led all hitters with nine kills, picking her 800th career kill.

Straight from the court
“Certainly excited about the fact that we are still playing, and the opportunities in front of us. San Diego, I’ve got a lot of respect for their coaching staff. It’s a tough deal with (Lauren Fuller) going down today and their senior leader going down during the match and you hate to see that, a kid’s career ending on that. With our team, you certainly like the focus that we had coming into this, I thought we played awfully well and that’s what jumps out at me.”

-Head coach Kelly Sheffield

“Going into this game, and every game, we know that serving is a huge key. If you can get a team out of system, it can make our job on our side of the net so much easier, so we practice serving a lot; not just getting the edge, but getting a ball that gets them out of system.”

-Sophomore Grace Loberg

“It’s the Elite Eight match, so everybody is going to come out swinging as hard as they can. Illinois we know, we’ve seen them a few times already. We know what they’re about, we know that they are a great team. They are going to come out hard, especially having a home court advantage. It’s going to be a grind, definitely, but it’s going to be a fun match.”

¬-Senior Tionna Williams