Badgers hope to rebound against Nittany Lions

first_imgMATTHEW KUTZ/Herald photoAs the Badgers approach their rematch with Penn State, the signs might point to a season sweep for the Nittany Lions.No. 3 Penn State (19-2, 10-0 Big Ten) comfortably parked itself atop the Big Ten volleyball standings with a two-game lead, thanks to a perfect first half of the season.But while the Lions are clicking on all cylinders, the Badgers (16-3, 8-2), who slipped four spots in the rankings to No. 11, have sputtered a bit at midseason. With an illness plaguing senior outside hitter and co-captain Aubrey Meierotto, UW barely got by Michigan State in five games, then lost ground in the conference race with a heartbreaking defeat — 16-14 in the fifth game — at unranked Michigan.”Aubrey brings so much to the team in a couple of different areas,” said head coach Pete Waite. “She is a great attacker with great pace on the ball. She’s able to block some of the best hitters in the conference, and she probably has the toughest serve on our team.”You take those three factors out, and you’ve got to make up a lot to stay at the level we’ve been playing,” Waite continued.Now, with Meierotto expected to return for Friday night’s match at University Park, the Badgers will try to recover and steal a win against Penn State tonight, followed by a match with Ohio State (14-5, 7-3), just one game back and nipping at Wisconsin’s heels.With the surprising loss to Michigan, and two upcoming games that UW could potentially lose, the Badgers are determined to not tumble from their elite status in the Big Ten.”[The Michigan loss] motivated us. That game showed us how much harder we have to work,” outside hitter Audra Jeffers said. “I think it was just a great learning experience for everyone, and it’s helped us prepare for this weekend.”Outside hitter Maria Carlini is coming off the best match of her career, posting a personal-best 29 kills against the Wolverines. Obviously, Carlini found it difficult to enjoy her breakout match in defeat.”I just wish we could have come out with the ‘W,'” Carlini said. “It was hard, losing 16-14 in the fifth game. It was just tough. But everyone battled, everyone fought hard.”Carlini said that the Badgers learned some things from a lesser Michigan team that can be put into effect against Penn State.”It taught us that we have to be aggressive right from the get-go, and not wait until we’re down four or five points before we start to really play our game,” she said. “It taught us we need to be stronger when we do get the lead and maintain it, to not let anyone take it from us.”On Oct. 8, the Lions came into the Field House and were greeted by a crowd of 6,774 fans, the third-largest attendance in the country this year. Seeing as Penn State was unfazed by the road atmosphere, the Badgers have had to undertake some extra preparation before going to University Park.”Where we thought we were working hard, we weren’t working hard enough,” Jeffers said. “This week, everyone has come in with the mentality that we just have to step it up every play in practice, every drill, and just work a lot harder as a team.”Like any good team, Wisconsin has kept a short-term memory when it comes to past results against both the Lions and the Buckeyes. The Ohio State match on Oct. 7, one night before the Penn State defeat, was just as decisive, but fell in UW’s favor.”We’re trying not to focus on those matches, we’re trying to look at what we did wrong when we played Penn State the last time, what we need to improve on,” Jeffers said. “We’re not dwelling on the loss or celebrating the win, we’re just going to move on and try to beat [both teams] this weekend.”Waite said the team is staying positive about its chances to knock off a faster Penn State squad by remembering that upsets do happen.”We’ve got to realize that on any given day, anybody can play great ball,” Waite said. “Michigan had been a team at the middle of the pack, but they are very capable of playing with the best in the conference.””Any time you’re a higher-ranked team, people are going to go after you,” he continued. “So obviously, against Penn State, we’re going to have to raise our level of play and the speed of our game to stay right with them.”last_img read more

Syracuse basketball predictions for Sweet 16 matchup with Gonzaga

first_img Published on March 24, 2016 at 12:26 am Related Stories How Dajuan Coleman can provide an added bonus for SyracuseBlum: Syracuse playing rest of NCAA Tournament on borrowed timeWhy Tyler Roberson can be a consistently dominant rebounder for SyracuseSyracuse basketball opponent preview: What to know about GonzagaSyracuse basketball roundtable: How to handle Gonzaga’s threats and how SU can improve No. 10 seed Syracuse (21-13, 9-9 Atlantic Coast) takes on No. 11 seed Gonzaga (28-7, 15-3 West Coast) in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament on Friday night at 9:40 p.m. in Chicago. The Orange is coming off back-to-back wins over Dayton and Middle Tennessee State this past weekend to keep its season alive.Here’s how beat writers Sam Blum, Jesse Dougherty and Matt Schneidman predict the matchup to unfold.Sam Blum (21-13)Gonzaga 68, Syracuse 65Tried your bestSyracuse’s season will always be remembered for the Sweet 16 run. Or maybe it will be for Boeheim’s suspension. Or maybe even how close the Orange came from beating Gonzaga. This has been an eventful five months for SU. We’ll never forget it. Unfortunately, the ride that was meets its demise when Syracuse can’t beat the red hot Bulldogs. The Windy City will blow the Orange all the way back to campus as a crazy year ends with a loss.Jesse Dougherty (22-12)Syracuse 64, Gonzaga 60Hard to guardAdvertisementThis is placeholder textIt’s arguable that Gonzaga’s defense has been nearly as impressive as the Syracuse zone so far in this Tournament, and both teams will go up against the most diverse offense they’ve seen on Friday. With that, this comes down to the two offenses even if the final score doesn’t indicate a shootout. Wiltjer, Sabonis and the Bulldogs’ cast of slashers gives the zone fits in flashes, but it’s the Orange’s big slashing shooters — Michael Gbinije and Malachi Richardson — that steal the show and a chance to play for the Final Four in Houston.Matt Schneidman (25-9)Gonzaga 71, Syracuse 64BittersweetThe 2-3 zone has been unsolvable for Dayton and Middle Tennessee State, but unfortunately for the Orange Gonzaga has two players tailor-made to solve it. Six-foot-10 Kyle Wiltjer and 6-foot-11 Damontas Sabonis are two of the best perimeter big men in the country and they will find the cracks and crevices in the zone to exploit the Orange down low, from the free-throw line and at the short corner. This time Syracuse in unable to pull away from a team in the second half to continue its unlikely tear through the Big Dance, and the Bulldogs leave Syracuse with a bittersweet taste in its mouth. Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more