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Frontline, defense send UW to victory over Iowa

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first_imgThe Wisconsin volleyball team turned the UW Field House into a “block party” Wednesday night against Iowa.Not the kind of block party with bratwursts and beers, but with volleyballs getting shoved back into the Hawkeyes’ faces. Wisconsin recorded a season-high 15 total team blocks, while Iowa only had five in UW’s dominating 3-0 defeat of the Hawkeyes.Head coach Kelly Sheffield had a hard time wrapping his head around the blocking success his team has had lately.“All of a sudden we’re the best blocking team in the universe,” Sheffield joked. “But you just can’t figure those things out.”Senior middle blocker Dominique Thompson led the way for the Badgers, with two solo blocks and six blocking assists, a season-high.The majority of Thompson’s blocks came when it mattered most. Before the third set, Thompson had only recorded three blocking assists. With UW down by one in the third set, she had a three rally stretch where she recorded a solo block, an assist with freshman outside hitter Kelli Bates and another solo to put Wisconsin up 7-5.Her fellow middle blocker, sophomore Haleigh Nelson, also recorded a season-high, with six blocking assists and a solo.“There’s no magic answer to why we’re all of a sudden doing so well,” Nelson said. “We haven’t changed our strategies at all. We’re still working on things we were working on in the beginning of the season, they’re just starting to come together.”Senior right-side hitter Courtney Thomas was a big part of the blocking brigade, adding five blocking assists of her own. Sophomore setter Lauren Carlini and Bates chipped in three blocking assists apiece as well.Nelson’s serve was a momentum changer for Wisconsin early in the second and third sets. In the second, she served during a 7-0 UW run, adding an ace to make it 11-4. Wisconsin went on a 6-0 run in the third set to claim a 10-5 lead behind the serving of Nelson again.“Sometimes she comes out here and sometimes she is fluff, F-L-U-F-F, when she’s serving in matches,” Sheffield said. “I know the entire crowd was very [appreciative] of the fact that she was serving with some aggression and some confidence. We see that everyday in practice, and it’s good to see that the people paying money were able to see that from her tonight.”With Nelson serving, she had to spend more time in the back line, a place she’s not as comfortable with compared to the front of the net. However, the 6-3 not-so-lumber blocker stepped up her digging game and recorded five digs, including a string of two impressive ones in a row in the second set. She finished the match with five digs, one shy of her career-high.“Digs are awesome. I love playing back row,” Nelson said.“My teammates, they’re just so supportive of me when I get digs and stuff. They know I hit the ground pretty hard so when I get a dig they’re pretty happy I haven’t broken any bones.”Iowa committed 23 errors throughout the match, while UW committed 14. Sheffield said he felt they made a few too many errors, but overall was content with his team’s approach to their shots.“We had a few more attack errors than what we normally have,” Sheffield said. “But I thought for the most part those were shots that were the right shot just not going in. I thought for the most part we played a pretty smart game and at the end of the day that’s what you’re wanting.”Offensively, the three keys for Wisconsin were Thomas, Bates and Nelson. Thomas finished with a match-high 11 kills. After Iowa fought back within three in the second set, Wisconsin went to Thomas twice off a UW timeout and she buried both of them. She also pummeled the set-winning kill.“I love getting the ball in pressure situations,” Thomas said.She said her success Wednesday came from following the scouting report as well as making in-game adjustments.“Our scouting report says a lot of which shots we were gonna have open,” Thomas said. “It’s also just you having IQ of the game and being able to see what is going on on the other side of the net after each play and seeing where the defense is and hitting where they’re not.”Bates got off to a hot start, putting down four balls in the first frame. Although she quieted down in the second set, she came back and had four third-set kills, finishing the match with 10.Sheffield praised Bates’ and Thomas’ abilities to adjust offensively and still be effective.“Those two were people who would get blocked a little bit more,” Sheffield said. “Their games have expanded a lot. Their shot repertoires have expanded a lot.”Nelson went through the first two sets with three kills, but managed three in the final frame, finishing with six kills. Like Thomas, Carlini was feeding her the ball in big spots, like when Wisconsin was down 5-3 in the third and Nelson hammered one home, which started her serving barrage that put the match away.“It makes the game more fun to know that when the game is on the line you can go up and give your team what they need to keep going,” Nelson said.Wisconsin has now won eight straight matches, and hasn’t lost a set since Oct. 4, winning 16 in a row. Confidence is high, Nelson said, but there’s always room for improvement.“We still have a long way to go,” Nelson said. “We believe our team chemistry can be even better than what it is now, and that the sky’s the limit for us and even though we’ve been on a really good run we’re not even close to done yet.”last_img read more

Syracuse’s next opponent: What to know about Miami

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first_img Published on January 23, 2019 at 4:39 pm Contact Billy: wmheyen@syr.edu | @Wheyen3 Comments Miami (9-8, 1-4 Atlantic Coast) travels north to take on Syracuse (13-5, 4-1) on Thursday night in the Carrier Dome. The Hurricanes are coming off a loss over the weekend to North Carolina, and their only conference win is against sub-.500 Wake Forest. SU comes off a week where it beat then-No. 1 Duke on the road and Pittsburgh at home.Here’s what to know about the Hurricanes before Thursday at 8 p.m. All-time series: Syracuse leads, 18-8Last time they played: Last Feb. 17, Syracuse beat Miami, 62-55. On the road, SU went into the half tied but pulled away in the second half. All three of the Orange’s leading scorers — Tyus Battle, Frank Howard and Oshae Brissett — played the game’s full 40 minutes. Howard led the way with 18 points and six assists. Brissett added 16 points of his own to go along with 12 rebounds, and Battle contributed 13 points. Marek Dolezaj joined them in double figures with 11 points, his highest scoring output last February.The Hurricanes struggled to make shots, finishing 20-of-59 from the field and 7-of 31 from 3-point range. Chris Lykes, the Miami point guard who returns for this season, led the Hurricanes with 14 points and four assists. Eventual NBA first-round pick Lonnie Walker added 12 points of his own.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe Miami report: The Hurricanes are led by the 5-foot-7 Lykes. He leads Miami in scoring and assists, and he’ll spur any fastbreak attempts that the ‘Canes pursue. Lykes isn’t the only Miami weapon, though, as he’s joined by four teammates in double-figure scoring: Zach Johnson, Anthony Lawrence, Ebuka Izundu and Dejan Vasiljevic.Izundu is the size: He’s 6-foot-10, 232 pounds and plays the majority of the center minutes for Miami. He couples double-digit scoring with 9.4 rebounds per game and more than a block per contest. Izundu’s joined in the frontcourt by the 6-foot-7 Lawrence.The Hurricanes lack height besides those two, though, as Lykes is flanked by 6-foot-2 Johnson and 6-foot-3 Vasiljevic. Vasiljevic poses a major threat beyond the arc, making almost three 3s per game at a 44 percent clip. The smaller players also use their quickness to create turnovers, and three of the five Hurricanes’ starters rank nationally in steal percentage, per Kenpom.com: Lykes, Johnson and Lawrence. How Syracuse beats Miami: Take advantage of size mismatches. Howard will hold 10 inches over Lykes; Battle is four inches taller than Johnson; Hughes has three inches on Vasiljevic. The Orange have grown reliant on the 3-point shot at times during ACC play, but that’s not the way to beat the Hurricanes. Getting to the rim and finishing there will be crucial for SU. On the defensive end, Syracuse needs its zone’s length to take the same advantage. Miami shoots above average from 3-point distance, but SU’s tall guards should be able to close out and make long shots tough. If the Hurricanes are forced to penetrate, SU’s effective shot blockers should hold an even larger edge against such smaller opponents.Stat to know: 51.8 percent — That’s the percentage Miami’s opponents have shot from 2-point range against the undersized Hurricanes, well above the national average, per Kenpom.com.KenPom odds: Syracuse has a 76 percent chance to win, by a projected score of 72-64.Player to know: Chris Lykes, guard, No. 0Syracuse has struggled all season to contain opponents’ best guards: Think Cornell’s Matt Morgan and Buffalo’s CJ Massinburg. Lykes’ height at 5-foot-7, while notable, hasn’t stopped him from lighting up other teams in his career. His height is insignificant on the offensive end, because he’s learned how to play with his frame. The sophomore has scored in single digits just once this season. He’ll get his, but the Orange will have to prevent him from going for 25 to maintain a strong shot to win. center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more