Volleyball: Badgers win Big Ten championship outright with help from Gophers

first_imgAspirations were high for the Wisconsin volleyball team this year. They returned three All-Americans in Dana Rettke, Sydney Hilley and Madison Duello. They added an experienced defensive specialist in Minnesota transfer Lauren Barnes. Then, they started the year 4-4 against a brutal slate of non-conference teams. Their losses came against Marquette, Baylor and Washington twice — all teams currently ranked in the AVCA top 10. They used it as a learning experience and rallied to a Big Ten Championship. The Badgers had just one Big championship in the last 17 years after consecutive titles in Ten 2000 and 2001.Volleyball: Badgers retake Big Ten lead with victories over Minnesota, Michigan StateThe No. 5 University of Wisconsin volleyball team (19-5, 15-1 Big Ten) took care of both No. 7 Minnesota and Read…After their loss to Penn State Friday night, Wisconsin swept Rutgers and watched as Minnesota topped Penn state 3-1. Penn State’s loss to Minnesota gave the Badgers the top record in the conference.Since their second loss to No. 10 Washington Sept. 21, the Badgers ripped through Big Ten play with a 18-2 record, including a 12 game winning streak with seven against ranked teams.They have also played the toughest schedule among the top teams in the Big Ten. Wisconsin has faced Minnesota twice, Nebraska twice and Penn State twice, all three of whom are ranked in the top 10 of the AVCA rankings. None of those teams faced each other more than once. Their two conference losses came against The Ohio State University Buckeyes, a mid-tier team in the Big Ten, and Penn State in a five-set heartbreaker.The Badgers responded emphatically following the loss to Ohio State. They dropped only one set in their five wins since the loss, including wins over then-No. 5 Minnesota and then-No. 6 Nebraska.That streak ended with the Nittany Lions.Volleyball: 3 surprising boosts to No. 7 BadgersA season ago, the Wisconsin volleyball team reached the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament before their neighbor to the Read…The progression of this Badger team is evident from the start of the year. Both as individuals and as a group, UW has improved in all three aspects of the game. According to Head Coach Kelly Sheffield, this team relishes that improvement. “There’s still a lot of opportunities to grow individually and as a team,” Sheffield said. “Winning is fun, but there’s no better feeling than the feeling of getting better … that’s where the real confidence comes from.” Their confidence has grown not only from winning but from closing out sets in crucial games. In their loss to Marquette early this season, UW had six match point opportunities and failed to capitalize each time. In their first loss to Washington, the Badgers dropped a set after leading 24–20 which would have tied the match at 1–1. Volleyball: Badgers split pair of games, drop first match in Big Ten playAn undefeated record in Big Ten volleyball is a tall task. There are currently six Big Ten teams in the Read…The team’s ability to close out crucial sets seemed to change in a pivotal match in Lincoln against Nebraska. In a raucous environment, UW rattled off set-winning runs of 9–4, 11–5 and 6–2 against the top defense in the Big Ten. Since that night, the Badgers have closed sets furiously with the exception of the loss to the Buckeyes. Also, different Badgers have pioneered game-ending runs. On the road in the 3–1 win over Minnesota, outside hitter Molly Haggerty closed out the third set with back-to-back kills and finished the match on a personal 3–0 run. In their second sweep of the Cornhuskers, middle blocker Danielle Hart closed the second set with two kills in the final three points. To close the match, right side hitter Madison Duello provided two kills and an emphatic block on Nebraska’s Lexi Sun. Volleyball: Badgers record team’s best start ever in Big Ten playThe Wisconsin volleyball team (16-4, 12-0 Big Ten) has started 12-0 in conference play for the first time in Badger Read…Looking ahead to the NCAA Tournament, the Badgers will likely host two games following their loss to Penn State. A win over the Nittany Lions likely would have given the Badgers a top-four seed and the subsequent opportunity to host four games.The Badgers will rely on their varied offensive attack as tournament time arrives. Their offense is seventh in the country in hitting percentage and setter Sydney Hilley, a top candidate for Big Ten Setter of the Year, is currently third in the country in assists per game. Rettke, the two-time AVCA first-team All-American, will likely add another selection as well as a shot for the Big Ten Player of the Year.Their defense has been steadily improving since the start of the season. At the start of the year, five of the Badgers’ first eight opponents recorded hitting percentages above .200. Since then, only four of their last 20 opponents have eclipsed .200, and the Badgers won three of those four matches. Volleyball: All-American Rettke remains hungry following summer with Team USAJunior Dana Rettke has been one of the most intimidating forces in college volleyball for over two years now. A Read…Lastly, UW will look to regain their prominence at the service line. In their last eight games, the Badgers’ service errors have outnumbered their service aces. UW’s service aces either matched or outpaced their service errors in 10 of their first 18 games. Freshman Izzy Ashburn gave the team an unexpected boost at the service line and could be a key contributor in the serving facet of the game.An NCAA championship is a legitimate goal for this team. All three phases of the game are necessary to accomplish that goal.last_img read more

Iconic: Tyson Fury’s refusal to stay down eerily reminiscent of Ali-Frazier I

first_imgBoth Ali and Fury’s ability to pull themselves up after being seemingly down and out encapsulated their respective comeback stories. Ali refused to stay down after his country turned its back on him for his beliefs. His resiliency became the narrative for arguably the greatest figure in the history of sports. Ali getting up against Frazier simply characterized this legendary icon’s resolve. Although Fury is far from the icon that Ali would eventually become, his comeback story has become motivation for those who suffer from mental health issues. If drugs abuse and depression couldn’t keep Fury down, neither could a punch. It’s a symbol of strength and determination that will most certainly be used to inspire those who are battling mental illness and need a beacon of light to get them through the day. Nearly 50 years later, Tyson Fury produced one of the most iconic moments in heavyweight boxing history. The context of the story is just as important as the moment itself and proves that boxing continues to personify the struggle of humanity. Join DAZN and watch more than 100 fight nights a yearForty-seven years later, Tyson Fury found himself in an eerily similar situation against the heavy-handed Deontay Wilder as the two clashed at Staples Center in a fight that was reminiscent in many ways to Ali-Frazier. And just like Ali did at Madison Square Garden, Tyson Fury rose from the dead after Wilder pulverized him with a left hook that would have caused just about any other fighter to be stretchered out of the arena. Like Ali, Fury was thought to be done for, only to bounce back to his feet as the boxing universe’s jaw collectively hit the floor. Although Wilder-Fury ended in a split draw, this was undeniably one of the most iconic moments in heavyweight boxing history and epitomized Fury’s remarkable comeback story. Before he was leveled by Frazier’s left hook, the undefeated Ali had spent three years away from the sport due to being suspended and stripped of his titles by the New York State Athletic Commission for refusing to be inducted in the U.S. Armed Forces for the war against Vietnam. Upon his return, Ali faced a pair of formidable, but not overly dangerous opponents such as Jerry Quarry and Oscar Bonavena, before taking on the powerful Frazier in an effort to regain the titles he was stripped of. Although Quarry and Bonavena were solid competition, there was concern regarding whether either opponent — particularly his struggles with Bonavena — would have properly set him up for what was to come. Few thought those fights would properly prepare him for the tenacious Frazier, but Ali proceeded to step into the ring despite losing his prime years being away from the sport. Although the fight was competitive, Frazier was ahead entering into the final round. While the fight itself was memorable, it would be Frazier’s hellacious punch to Ali’s chin that produced the iconic moment of the fight. Frazier’s signature punch landed with astounding power and dropped Ali like a sack of bricks. Most fighters wouldn’t have the wherewithal to even consider standing up. But Ali proved to be cut from a different cloth. Rather than stay down, Ali bounced back to his feet, his jaw grotesquely swollen from the impact of Frazier’s punch. Ali astoundingly survived the round and it epitomized the unbelievable resiliency that he possessed. Although he didn’t win the fight, he won the hearts of his naysayers with such a gutsy performance.   Like Ali, Fury entered the ring against Wilder having spent nearly three years away from the sport, albeit for different reasons. Fury, who usurped Wladimir Klitschko as the heavyweight champion in 2015, sank into depression, which led to drug and alcohol abuse, suicidal thoughts and tremendous weight gain. But a newfound determination saw “The Gypsy King” work himself back into fighting shape and mount a comeback to the ring. Like Ali, Fury faced a pair of underwhelming opponents in Francesco Pianeta and Sefer Sefari before throwing himself into the fire against WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder. Pianeta and Sefari were far less talented than Quarry and Bonavena but were necessary for Fury to get rounds in before a big fight against the heavyweight champion. And like Frazier, Wilder was known for his voracious punching power that finished every opponent he stepped into the ring with. The fights against Pianeta and Sefari didn’t seem to prepare Fury for what he had to deal with against the powerful Wilder. Wilder-Fury played out differently than Ali-Frazier as Fury had the upper hand throughout the fight and Wilder was the one who was in need of a knockout as the rounds progressed. There are some parallels between Fury and Ali when it comes to fighting style as both share impressive footwork and defensive ability to go along with a flicking jab that disrupts the rhythm of their opponent. It should also be noted that Fury has gained just as much notoriety for his trash-talking ability as his in-ring prowess. The 12th round of Wilder-Fury would end up playing out in a similar fashion as Ali-Frazier nearly a half-century earlier. Wilder uncorked a right hand, followed by a blistering left hook that put Fury on his back. Fury had no business getting up from that punch — just like he had no business getting back into a boxing ring. But like Ali before him, the resiliency of a champion shined through as Fury bounced up from the canvas — with his wits seemingly intact — and fought to the final bell.  LOS ANGELES — Usually, the most dramatic moment in boxing is when a fighter goes down; not how he gets back up. But the latter was the case in 1971, when Muhammad Ali peeled himself off the canvas after Joe Frazier detonated a missile of a left hook squarely on the chin of the fighter formally known as Cassius Clay in the 15th and final round of their highly-anticipated showdown between unbeaten heavyweights known as “The Fight of the Century.” Although the fight itself was an instant classic that saw Frazier hand Ali his first defeat, that particular moment forever lived in infamy and epitomized Ali’s greatness and resiliency in the face of certain disaster. last_img read more