As senior day activities loomed post-match, Indiana volleyball faced one of the most challenging opponents of its season — the No. 3 ranked Wisconsin Badgers. Indiana fell in three straight sets to the Badgers and suffered its third home loss of the season.
Indiana opened the first set, quickly learning why Wisconsin is second in the country at 3.01 blocks per set. Wisconsin opened the lead up 10-5 with three blocks, prompting an Indiana timeout. Out of the timeout Indiana found its offensive groove and shut down the Badger’s block, storming back down only two at 12-10. Senior middle blocker Savannah Kjolhede capitalized on the high Wisconsin block, hitting off hands and through the seams as she produced three straight kills. After a small Badger run, Indiana burned its final timeout down 22-18 late in the opening set. The Badger took the first set 25-19.
Kjolhede led Indiana with four kills, hitting .429. Wisconsin senior outside hitters Sarah Frankling and Temi Thomas-Ailara each had four kills. The Hoosiers tallied 12 kills and eight errors, struggling with the Wisconsin block early in the set.
Junior setter Camryn Haworth forced a Wisconsin timeout down 3-0 with three straight tough serves at the start of the second set. Indiana relied heavily on its defense and serving through the opening and middle of the second set, as they struggled to stay above zero in hitting percentage.
The offensive woes plagued Indiana late in the second set as the Hoosiers rattled off two straight attacking errors and allowed the Badgers to take their first lead of the set 19-18. Senior serving specialist Kenzie Dafinee served up Indiana’s third ace of the set to take the lead 20-19. Wisconsin took the second set 26-24 following a successful challenge from the Badgers.
Indiana had 15 kills and 11 errors in the second set, hitting .047. Wisconsin on the other hand had 14 kills and four errors, hitting .263. Sophomore opposite hitter Candela Alonso-Corcelles led Indiana through the first two sets with nine kills. Franklin led the Badgers through the first two sets with eight kills on 29 swings.
Similar to the opening of the match, Indiana struggled with the block from Wisconsin allowing two blocks and giving up two attacking errors down 6-2. It was all Badgers through the opening of third set — they led 11-5 out of an Indiana timeout. Wisconsin continued to roll through the third set, at one point leading 16-8 off a kill from junior outside Anna Smrek. Indiana was able to spark a run late in the third set, but Wisconsin won the set 25-14. The Badgers swept the match and season over Indiana.
Wisconsin had 13 kills and zero errors in the third set, hitting a blistering .481. Indiana once again struggled offensively with 12 kills and seven errors.
Alonso-Corcelles led all hitters with 15 kills on 49 swings in the three-set match. For Wisconsin, Franklin added 11 kills and Smrek added 10 kills hitting .667 in her first match back in over two weeks.
Wisconsin out blocked Indiana 14-1 in the three-set sweep.
“Obviously, I want to thank the seniors for building this program and leaving it better than before,” Indiana head coach Steve Aird said postgame. “I am a little disappointed in the outcome and how we played but now we shift our focus to Michigan State.”
The Hoosiers travel to Michigan for their final two games of the regular season facing Michigan State on Friday and Michigan on Saturday in their final match of Big Ten play. Both matches will be streamed on Big Ten+. Indiana will hope to hear its name called Sunday during the NCAA DI Volleyball Selection Show.
Follow reporter Michael Livingston (@mblivingston_) for updates throughout the Indiana volleyball season.