The Wisconsin Badgers women's volleyball team is still dancing! After sweeping their way into the Final Four of the NCAA Women's Volleyball tournament, the Badgers defeated the previously undefeated and No. 1 seed Louisville Cardinals in five sets on Thursday night.
It was a thrilling match between the 29-3 Badgers and 32-0 Cardinals. The first set was back and forth and closely contested throughout, but the Badgers pulled away late to take a 25-23 first set victory. Louisville battled back with a strong second set, winning it 25-15 and evening up the match.
The third set was the Anna Smrek show, as the 6 foot 9 freshman had eight kills in that set alone, on her way to a career high 20 kills on the night. Wisconsin took the third set by a score of 25-21.
In the fourth set, the Badgers had a few chances to close it out, but the Cardinals kept fighting and after some long rallies, Louisville won the 4th set 25-23, setting up a final 5th set for the right to go to the National Championship game.
It was back and forth early on, and Louisville even had a 3-1 lead in the first-to-15 set, but Wisconsin battled and went on an 8-2 to take a commanding lead and they closed out the fifth set victory over Louisville 15-9.
It was the first loss of the season for the Cardinals and Wisconsin was the one who finally took them down.
Anna Smrek led the way for the Badgers with 20 kills, followed by Dana Rettke with 14 and Grace Loberg adding 13. Setter Sydney Hilley had 58 assists and 11 digs and the libero, Lauren Barnes had 19 digs to go with seven assists and two service aces.
This will be Wisconsin Volleyball's fourth appearance in the National Championship game in their history, but they are still seeking their first ever victory in this game. Their last appearance was in 2019. Coach Kelly Sheffield and his team will have to face off against a familiar foe in the Nebraska Cornhuskers, who took down the Pitt Panthers in four sets in the other Final Four game on Thursday night.
The Badgers have faced Nebraska twice already this season, and beat them both times.
The National Championship game will air on Saturday night with pregame starting at 6:15 PM CT and the game set to begin at 6:30 PM CT on 1310 WIBA in Madison and on the iHeartRadio app.