The University of Wisconsin Badgers volleyball team concluded the regular season with an exclamation point at the UW Field House this weekend as they delivered back-to-back sweeps against Big Ten rivals. For their efforts, the Badgers have earned a No. 1 seed in their regional and the No. 3 overall seed in the 2023 NCAA Tournament, the committee announced on Selection Sunday.
The Badgers will host Jackson State (17-12) in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Thursday, Nov. 30, 7:30 p.m. This is the 11th straight season and the 27th time in program history that the Wisconsin volleyball team has earned a bid to the NCAA tournament.
The top four seeds for the upcoming NCCA tourney will be Nebraska, Stanford, Wisconsin, and Pittsburgh, respectively.
The Badgers had a great weekend to get to the No. 1 seed. On Friday night, the No. 5 Badgers steamrolled the top-ranked, undefeated Nebraska Cornhuskers (25-22, 28-26, 25-16) in front of a raucous Field House crowd. On Saturday night, the Badgers returned to the Field House to celebrate senior night with a sweep against Iowa (25-21, 25-10, 25-16.)
Against the Hawkeyes, Wisconsin hit over .300 for the 21st time this season. The Badgers out-blocked its opponent for the 27th (of 29 matches) time this season. Outside hitter Temi Thomas-Ailara had a career-best with a .647 hitting percentage while recording 11 kills with zero errors on 17 attempts.
“I thought we got off to probably a little bit of a slower start in the first set,” said UW Volleyball Head Coach Kelly Sheffield. “Temi (Thomas Ailara) carried us early on and then (in) the second set it was pretty close the first few points and Jos (Boyer) came in and I thought that turned the entire energy of the Field House around. (It was) a good win and we finished off the Big Ten season the way that we wanted to be able to finish and onto the selection show on Sunday.”
The Field House, pulsating with energy, bore witness to a team playing not just for a conference win but for a profound connection with a group of seniors who have poured their hearts into the program. The synergy between the team and the seniors was palpable throughout the match, creating an atmosphere that resonated far beyond the final score. Senior star Sarah Franklin had a match-high 14 kills against Iowa, reaching double-digit kills for the 23rd time this season.
As the regular season concludes, the Badgers are riding a wave of momentum propelling them as they head into tournament play. The journey into the tournament is not just about wins and losses; it’s a celebration of a team’s resilience, determination, and the indelible mark left by a group of seniors who have helped to shape the program’s identity.
“We’re excited about playing,” said head coach Kelly Sheffield. “We’re excited about the new season. We’re excited to be one of the 64 teams in this and we’re certainly really excited to be able to play matches in the Field House. Our fans don’t need to travel, that’s pretty cool.”
The Badgers will host first and second-round matches on Thursday and Friday at the UW Field House. All-session ticket packages for the NCAA 1st & 2nd Round matches go on sale Monday morning at 9 a.m. online at UWBadgers.com.