Wisconsin hit .357 and played perhaps the best of any team in Thursday’s NCAA Tournament round of 16 as the third-seeded Badgers overpowered 13th-seeded UCLA 25-16, 25-18, 25-17.
Now Wisconsin will play Minnesota on Saturday in a battle of Big Ten teams after the 12th-seeded Gophers ousted fifth-seeded Baylor 26-28, 25-22, 20-25, 25-23, 15-10.
Wisconsin improved to 28-3 as four players had eight or more kills. Juila Orzol led with 11 kills while hitting .381 to go with three aces, six digs, and two blocks, one solo. Dana Rettke had eight kills with one error in 17 attacks and had a block. Grace Loberg had eight kills with one error in 22 attacks, and Devyn Robinson had eight kills with two errors in 17 attacks to go with four blocks and three digs. Sydney Hilley had 30 assists, an ace, a block, and 14 digs.
“I think every one of our hitters hit over .300,” Wisconsin coach Kelly Sheffield said. “Against that team and some of the defenders they have, it is pretty cool. I thought our ball control was real solid. I thought our outsides were targeted a lot.
“This kid (Orzol) was targeted a ton. I mean 24 receptions and I don’t think anybody had more than nine. One thing I love about her is she loves these types of moments. She doesn’t shrink and play small, she wants to be there. I love the consistency she played with and she loves challenges. I thought Syd did can obviously fantastic job of distributing the ball.”
Wisconsin, the Big Ten champion, opened the tournment with victories over Colgate and FGCU. In its first B1G meeting with Minnesota, Wisconsin swept in Madison. Then Wisconsin won in five at Minnesota on November 21.
UCLA, which finished second in the PAC-12, ended its season 25-6. The Bruins advanced with victories over Fairfield and UCF.
Mac May put a punctuation mark on her tremendous career 17 kills while hitting .351. She had an assist, an ace, a solo block, and four digs. elan McCall, one of three Bruins with five kills, had two aces, a block and 12 digs. UCLA hit .143.
Minnesota,which advanced after beating South Dakota and Stanford, won despite hitting .166. Airi Miyabe led with 18 kills and hit .324 and had two blocks and four digs. Stephanie Samedy had 16 kills but hit .098. She had two assists, an ace, four blocks, and 16 digs. Jenna Wenaas had 13 kills, four assists, an ace, five blocks, and 15 digs. Ellie Husemann had five kills with one error in nine attacks, a dig and eight blocks, one solo. Melani Shaffmaster had five kills, 48 assists, two blocks, and 12 digs.
Baylor, second in the Big 12, ended its season 22-6. Baylor advanced by beating Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Washington State.
“At this level, the margins are really thin,” Baylor coach Ryan McGuyre said. “And they were able to make plays at the end to finish off sets three times, and we were able to do it a couple of times … I thought it was good volleyball, really good volleyball at times. The defenses kind of picked up a little bit toward the back half of the match. For both teams, it was harder to terminate and get points.”
The Bears, who hit .175, got 22 kills from Yossiana Pressley, who hit .190 and had two aces, four blocks, and 12 digs. Avery Skinner had 19 kills, an assist, three blocks, and 19 digs. Lauren Harrison had 13 kills, three blocks, and four digs. Marieke van der Mark had seven kills, hit .417, and had six blocks and a dig. Hannah Sedwick had three kills, 60 assists, and 14 digs.