ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Welcome back, Dana Rettke.
After sitting out two matches with a foot injury, Rettke returned to the lineup Sunday and led the University of Wisconsin volleyball team to a four-set victory over Michigan 24-26, 25-16, 25-15, 25-16.
Rettke, the 6-foot-8, two-time All-American middle blocker, put away 15 kills and had season-highs of 10 blocks and four service aces as the Badgers overcame a bumpy start to dominate the Wolverines most of the last three sets.
The victory gives the No. 6 Badgers (14-4, 10-0 Big Ten) their best conference start since 2001, when they won their first 11 matches.
“Dana got stronger as the match went on,” UW coach Kelly Sheffield said. “It’s nice having her out there.”
The Badgers hit just .147 in the first set with five hitting errors in 34 swings. But they had just four hitting errors the rest of the match, hitting .468 over the last three sets to finish the match at .372.
UW trailed by as many as five points in the first set before rallying to tie it at 24. Michigan (13-7, 6-4) responded with two points, the winner coming on a kill by sophomore Paige Jones, who finished with a match-high 21 kills.
The Badgers were in command from start to finish in the next two sets, but Michigan kept things close for a while in the fourth.
A Grace Loberg kill evened the set at 14 and Rettke went to the service line for eight consecutive points, a run that included her fourth ace of the day, to put the match away.
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“It’s amazing what a 9-0 run can do,” Sheffield said. “Dana went back there and executed and they had to earn their way out of that.”
Loberg finished with 13 kills and a career-high six blocks as the Badgers held a 16-6 lead in blocks.
The Badgers also has a serving advantage with seven aces, to only one by the Wolverines. Michigan also had 12 service errors, to just six for UW. The teams entered the match ranked 1-2 in the Big Ten in aces.
“(Michigan) can serve,” Sheffield said. “They can have some service errors, but they can really get on runs of points and put you in dire straits. We gave up one ace on a filthy serve where the bottom just dropped out. And (Lauren) Barnes is still angry. Everyone else is celebrating that we won in four and Barnes is sitting over there angry that she gave up an ace.
“But the fact that they only got one quick point was pretty key. The serve-pass battle, I thought we did a pretty good job with.”
Wisconsin 24 25 25 25
Michigan 26 16 15 16
WISCONSIN (kills-digs-blocks) — Rettke 15-3-10, Haggerty 9-2-1, Loberg 13-0-6, Hart 7-0-6, Duello 5-2-5, Hilley 1-6-3, Barnes 0-8-0, Ashburn 1-11-0, Clark 0-16-0, Dodge 0-9-0. Totals 51-57-16.
MICHIGAN (kills-digs-blocks) — Jones 21-8-1, Wetterstrom 10-15-1, Robinson 8-0-0, Pertofsky 8-5-4, Welsh 4-6-1, Shannon 3-0-0, Bair 2-1-4, Hamacher 0-3-0, Rocafort 0-1-0, Smith 0-8-0, Glavanic 0-0-0. Totals 56-47-6.
Hitting percentage — W .372, M .176. Aces — W 7 (Rettke 4), M 1 (Wetterstrom). Assists — W 46 (Hilley 42), M 52 (Welsh 45). Att. — 1,609.