No Molly Haggerty, no problem for the University of Wisconsin volleyball team.
With Haggerty sidelined by a minor injury, the No. 1 Badgers used the opportunity to put their depth on display Saturday in a 25-20, 25-9, 25-13 sweep of Michigan State at Jenison Field House in East Lansing.
Haggerty’s outside hitter duties were split between freshman Jade Demps in the front row and senior Deahna Kraft in the back. And each played a significant role in the victory.
Demps recorded eight kills to share team honors with seniors Dana Rettke and Grace Loberg, while freshman Devyn Robinson chipped in with seven.
Kraft took over the back row rotations and contributed two service aces and five digs.
“I thought Deahna and Jade were really solid today,” coach Kelly Sheffield said. “Molly’s fine. She’s a little banged up and it’s a long season and another opportunity to get a couple other kids in and play.”
Demps, making her second start, got her eight kills on 16 swings with just one error, hitting .438. Sheffield said she showed some signs of nerves early but settled in as the match went along.
“She’s a really gifted attacker,” he said. “She can get up there and especially on out of system balls, she can get up there and get over the block. Her off-speed shot is really disguised well so when she drops it over the block, especially when she puts a couple bombs in prior to that, she’s a handful. It’s hard to slow her down.”
The Badgers (9-0 Big Ten) also were bolstered by the return of senior defensive specialist Giorgia Civita, who had missed the past two weeks with a concussion. She had three aces and six digs as the Badgers had perhaps their strongest serve and pass performance of the season.
“She came back and she didn’t skip a beat,” senior libero Lauren Barnes said. “Like she never left.
“I thought we served real aggressively. And I thought we dimed almost every single ball. They were pounding Grace and Deahna and they held their own. They were keeping us in system the whole time and our hitters did the work from there. Our serve and pass game really dominated.”
Sheffield concurred with that assessment, noting the Badgers’ passing kept them in system most of the match while their serving had the Spartans (2-6) scrambling, as evidenced by their .071 hitting percentage.
“I really liked our serve-pass game today,” he said. “I thought we varied our planes serving, really kept them off balance from behind the service line. I thought our passing did a really good job against some servers that can go back there and really get on the ball in a hurry. I thought our first contact was pretty good.”
Junior Naya Gros had eight kills to lead the Spartans, who had 21 attack errors compared to UW’s six.
Wisconsin 25 25 25
Michigan State 20 9 13
WISCONSIN (kills-digs-blocks) — Demps 8-0-0, Rettke 8-0-4, Loberg 8-4-0, Robinson 7-1-2, Hart 3-1-1, Kraft 2-5-0, Hilley 1-8-3, Barnes 0-8-0, Gregorski 0-0-0, Civita 0-6-0, Ashburn 0-0-0. Totals 37-33-5.
MICHIGAN STATE (kills-digs-blocks) — Gros 8-0-2, Poljan 5-1-2, Norris 4-4-1, Max-Brown 4-2-0, Kabengele 2-1-1, Swartz 2-0-0, Johnson 2-1-1, Edmonds 0-2-0, Cullen 0-7-2, Cox 0-3-0, Gibbs 0-3-0, Chronowski 0-0-0, Shklyar 0-0-0. Totals 27-33-5.
Hitting percentage — W .397, MS .071. Aces — W 7 (Civita 3), MS 3 (Poljan, Edmonds, Cox). Assists — W 31 (Hilley 24), MS 26 (Cullen 25).