Jeffers leading way for Badger offense

first_imgThe Badgers have been pretty consistent over the last month, just not in a great way.For the fourth consecutive weekend, the UW volleyball team came away splitting two matches with one win and one loss. Wisconsin took down the Iowa Buckeyes easily, 30-20, 30-28, 30-23, on Friday night; however, the Minnesota Golden Gophers got revenge in beating the Badgers 21-30, 30-24, 30-19, 31-29 the next night.”We were pretty pleased with our match at Iowa,” UW head coach Pete Waite said. “I thought we played a solid game, we took their players out of their system better than we did when they played here, so we were pretty happy with that.”Against Minnesota, we played a great first game. We did everything we were trying to do offensively, we were … playing with a lot of confidence,” Waite continued. “After that, Minnesota came out and made some changes, and we weren’t able to adjust. It’s something we have got to be better at.”Wisconsin was tied with the Gophers at 20 in the second game, and at 29 in the fourth, but was unable to come up with enough points at the end to get the road victory.”There’s just a few things that we’re not quite capitalizing on in critical times, that we just have to do to get those wins,” Waite said.Doubled up: Wisconsin has kept a balanced attack all season, as five Badgers continue to average over 2.3 kills per game.However, redshirt freshman Audra Jeffers is beginning to look more and more like the centerpiece of the UW offense. Jeffers, following a 17-kill performance at Minnesota, has hit double-digit kills in her last 11 matches to reach a team-high 3.48 kills a game.”Audra’s doing a great job, our setters have been learning to get her the ball in better situations,” Waite said. “Physically, she’s capable of doing some great things against any team in the conference.”On the defensive side, sophomore libero Jocelyn Wack is just seven matches away from setting a record for consecutive double-digit dig matches. With 26 digs against Minnesota and 22 at Iowa, Wack has 56 straight matches with at least 10 digs. Griselle Lopez-Pereira of Virginia Commonwealth has the current record, with her streak ending at 63 on Sept. 2.So long, seniors: This weekend marks the last regular-season home matches for Wisconsin’s two seniors, Aubrey Meierotto and Sheila Shaw.”They’ve both been great,” Waite said. “The last two years, we’ve been a pretty young team, and they’ve been leaders all the time for us.”Meierotto is a fifth-year senior, who redshirted her freshman year to take care of knee problems. Fighting through illness this year, Meierotto has managed to put down just under three kills per game played.”She’s just put up some great numbers for us, and been tough as a leader,” Waite said. “It’s unfortunate she had pneumonia this year, it was a bit of a bump in the road for her, but she’s been fantastic.”Shaw was honored as a member of the 2004 All-Big Ten squad last year, and has contributed 2.77 kills and 1.53 blocks per game with a .303 hitting percentage in 2005.”Sheila, from the beginning, started in the middle as an undersized middle blocker in the Big Ten, and her physical abilities just had her standing out all the time,” Waite said.Stretch run: With just four matches left, Wisconsin (19-6, 11-5 Big Ten) remains very much in the hunt for second place in the conference, currently in a three-way tie for the spot with Minnesota and the Ohio State Buckeyes.”We’ve been lucky that with the conference standings, [teams] are beating up on each other,” Waite said. “Purdue just went to Ohio State and lost to them, and we beat Ohio State both times we played them.”The team that’s playing spoiler right now is Northwestern,” Waite added. “They’ve gone out and beaten a couple of the ranked teams and have really shaken up the standings. [Next week] we have to go to their place and play, and hopefully we’ll take care of business there.”Wisconsin has played a lot of volleyball against their upcoming contenders. The Badgers beat the Michigan State Spartans and lost to the Michigan Wolverines in mid-October. Both matches went the five-game distance.Waite knows if his team wants to go after home court matches in the playoffs, it will be imperative to get some wins over the final two weekends of the regular season.”You never know, sometimes the NCAA surprises you,” he said. “But if we do finish out 4-0, we should finish second in the Big Ten. With our attendance figures, everything should come together for us.”last_img

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