Wisconsin Badgers Volleyball Claims National Title in 5 Set Thriller

~ From NCAA.com ~

The Wisconsin Badgers just won their first national championship in program history. Dana Rettke ended her unbelievable career on top, hoisting the trophy over her head, as not only the best player in the nation but on the best team in the nation.

The Badgers pulled off the win in a five-set thriller over Nebraska. They executed their game plan at such a high level against a tough, hot, Nebraska team that just wouldn’t go away. As a team, the Badgers posted 24 blocks, the most in a national championship game ever. Rettke notched 11 kills and had 13 blocks to her name. She had some big help, though, as the freshman Anna Smrek led offensively with 14 kills on .429 hitting, Jade Demps had a magnificent game with 12 kills on .396 hitting and Grace Loberg finished off her career with 10 kills. Sydney Hilley dished out 51 assists and ended the match with a perfect set, all net, to her roommate Rettke. This offense was able to get it done against an incredible Nebraska defense that posted 91 digs. It was so hard to put the ball away, but they got it done with great blocking and an amazing all-around effort. Lauren Barnes, again, put on a show in the backcourt with 31 digs.

The Badgers came out to a 7-0 start in the fifth. Absolutely everything went Wisconsin’s way, but Nebraska re-grouped in a timeout with the mindset of “it’s not over until its over.” They chipped away at the deficit and got within three at 10-7, then 12-9, but Rettke and Demps gave the Badgers match point. Nebraska fought off two match points, and you could hear Madi Kubik encouraging her teammates “we can do this.” Kubik then sent one out of bounds and Wisconsin rushed the court to celebrate its first-ever national title when John Cook flashed the challenge card for a touch. The call was overturned and Nebraska had a glimmer of hope, but Rettke, the National Player of the Year, finished it off. The most fitting end to her unbelievable career. She came back for her fifth year, and she finished on top.

Congratulations to Nebraska on an incredible turnaround season, making it to the title game and giving the Badgers the fight of their life after a season full of adversity. Lauren Stivrins had a phenomenal career as a Husker and a great match tonight with 10 kills and five blocks.

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David Keech
Author: David Keech

David Keech is a math teacher in Wisconsin Rapids and public address announcer for Abbotsord High School. He officiates basketball, baseball, and softball in central Wisconsin. He has reported on amateur sports since 2011, known as 'KeechDaVoice.' David can be reached at [email protected]