The BYU Cougars apparently were determined to not let Dana Rettke beat them.
That was OK with the University of Wisconsin volleyball team as Molly Haggerty and friends were more than up to that task in their NCAA tournament regional semifinal match Saturday night in Omaha, Nebraska.
Haggerty, a redshirt senior, had 14 kills, and freshman Devyn Robinson added 11 as the No. 1 seed Badgers swept the No. 16 Cougars 25-20, 25-17, 25-12 to advance to the Elite Eight for the 11th time in program history.
The Badgers (17-0) will face the winner of Sunday’s match between No. 8 Florida and No. 9 Ohio State on Monday at 5:30 p.m.
And while there were contributions from all around the court, no one had a bigger impact on the match than Haggerty, who hit .500 with no hitting errors.
“I thought that was one of Molly Haggerty’s best matches of her career,” UW coach Kelly Sheffield said. “Not just with the numbers, but with the presence she had. She was in absolute beast mode. She was working the entire court. I thought it was just a big-time night for her.”
Haggerty has been having big-time matches in the biggest matches throughout her career, dating back to when she led her club team to four consecutive national championships and her high school team to four straight Illinois state titles.
“I’ve watched her for a lot of years,” Sheffield said. “When the moments get bigger she gets so much better. You’re around a player long enough, you know what you’re going to get from them in these types of moments. She was great tonight.”
One of the keys for Haggerty was being able to use her full range of shots to all parts of the court.
“I think throughout the match I was just trying to see different shots that were open and just moving it around,” Haggerty said. “I think as a hitter if you become too predictable and hitting in the same area it’s pretty easy to stop me. That’s something I’ve really gotten better at in my years here, expanding my range with my hitting.”
BYU (17-2) recorded 16 blocks in its second-round match against UCLA, but the Cougars had just five blocks Saturday, compared to nine for UW.
BYU’s top priority clearly was to limit the damage from Rettke, the three-time first-team All-American. And the Cougars succeeded to a degree, holding her to just six kills, matching her season low, and a season-low .095 hitting percentage.
“They did a really good job,” Sheffield said. “She and (Kennedy) Eschenberg were up against each other and it was a heck of a match. She’s an All-American middle for them and an exceptional blocker. She was up there quite a bit and they neutralized each other.
“Dana’s offensive numbers weren’t very Dana-like but when she was in the match the opponent hit .000. That’s one thing we discussed, if one part of your game isn’t there being able to make a difference in other areas and I thought she did that.”
The match pitted two of the most efficient offenses in the nation. The Badgers came in ranked third nationally, hitting .347, while the Cougars were fifth at .309.
But the Badgers, who trailed just once in the entire match — on the first point of the third set — hit a solid .333 for the night with just 10 hitting errors. The Cougars hit just .152 with 17 errors. BYU’s leading attacker, senior Taylen Ballard-Nixon, who came in averaging 3.92 kills per set and hitting .270, was held to just four kills and hit -.133.
One of the keys was the Badgers’ serving, which kept the Cougars out of system much of the night. And after some tentative moments early, UW’s backcourt defense made it tough for BYU’s hitters to find the floor, led by senior Lauren Barnes’ 16 digs.
“It was a great defensive effort on a really talented senior in Ballard-Nixon,” Sheffield said. “A lot of it was set up by our serve. They were out of system all night long.”
Rettke had a match-high six blocks and Robinson had five to go along with her big night offensively.
“I love playing with Devyn,” Haggerty said. “You can’t even tell she’s a freshman. Honestly, she kind of reminds me of myself when I was a freshman. She’s just going out there and doing her job, just balling and not acting like a freshman, not scared of making mistakes and having that presence with her in the big moments.”
BYU 20 17 12
Wisconsin 25 25 25
BYU (kills-digs-blocks) — Grimmer 9-1-2, Livingston 7-1-0, Ballard-Nixon 4-7-3, Dodson 4-2-1, Eschenberg 4-0-4, W. Bower 3-11-0, Allen 1-14-0, M. Bower 0-2-0, Tausinga 0-0-0, Dayton 0-5-0, Wee 0-4-0, Llarenas 0-0-0. Totals 32-47-5.
WISCONSIN (kills-digs-blocks) — Haggerty 14-2-0, Robinson 11-0-5, Loberg 8-8-2, Rettke 6-0-6, Hilley 4-8-2, Hart 4-1-3, Barnes 0-16-0, Civita 0-6-0, Ashburn 0-2-0, Kraft 0-4-0. Totals 47-47-9.
Hitting percentage — B .152, W .333. Aces — B 1 (Allen), W 6 (Loberg, Civita 2). Assists — B 29 (W. Bower 22), W 44 (Hilley 33).
'An absolute legend': Badgers fans, former Wisconsin athletes share memories of Barry Alvarez
J.J. Watt — Arizona Cardinals
Just an absolute legend.— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) April 6, 2021
Came in with a vision. Executed on that vision with an immense amount of hard work, passion, focus and perseverance. Spread that energy throughout an entire athletic department, university and state. Left behind a legacy.
Thank you Barry!#OnWisconsin https://t.co/9ashnkKSMm
Russell Wilson — Seattle Seahawks
“Son... there’s this school up north, University of Wisconsin. They’ve got this Hall of Fame Coach, Barry Alvarez. You should play for him one day” -My dad HBW III when I was 10.— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) April 6, 2021
Thanks for everything Coach. Grateful we got to spend such quality time together that year!
❤️ 16 https://t.co/laHVFv7eyf
Vince Biegel — Miami Dolphins
I’ll never forget the day I committed to Wisconsin. It wasn’t at a senior bowl picking hats, a high school gym, or even in Bret Bielema’s office. It was in Barry Alvarez’s office where Wisconsin football started and I would do it all over again. #OnWisconsin https://t.co/vkB5exhfP4— Vince Biegel (@VinceBiegel) April 6, 2021
Melvin Gordon — Denver Broncos
Vitaly Pisetsky — Former Badgers kicker
Coach, thank you so much for taking a chance on an immigrant kid and introducing this dream we all lived and made into reality in our time together! Your lessons off the football field will stay with me forever and I will forever be thankful for having you in my life. Love you! pic.twitter.com/u6yOb21TvQ— Vitaly Pisetsky (@VodkaAndWiscy) April 6, 2021
Thomas Hammock — Northern Illinois head coach
Drew Meyer — Former Badgers punter
Will never forget when Coach spoke to us the night before the 2013 Rose Bowl. He said, “Now some people say I got ‘swag,’ and I do. Swag is just knowing more than the other cats out there...”— Drew Meyer (@drewmeyer5) April 6, 2021
Coach knew more, and won more. His legacy and impact will last forever #OnWisconsin https://t.co/nGOxcgqpZp
Sam Dekker — Former Badgers basketball player
Stan Feinstein — UW Class of 1964
When the Wisconsin football team was arriving at LAX for the 1994 Rose Bowl game, I went to the airport to greet them. It was late at night, around midnight as I recall. I wore my Wisconsin sweatshirt and was the only fan at the gate. Barry Alvarez led the team off the plane. He acknowledged me but that was it. My impression was that he was a big-time guy, focused on his team and the game. I had never done anything like that, but went because it had been years since they had played in the Rose Bowl. Is was an undergrad in 1963 and did not go to the game.
Dave Zoerb — UW Class of 1968
In late 1989, my wife and I attended a UW Alumni reception at a holiday college hockey tournament held in Milwaukee. During the evening of mingling, we visited with Pat Richter’s wife, Renee. She told us Pat was not there because he was in South Bend offering the UW head football coaching job to an exceptional candidate. Pat was planning to make that announcement upon returning to Madison. A couple of days later, Barry Alvarez was introduced as the new head coach. We felt we had an inside scoop!
I also served on the UW Athletic Board from 2007 to 2011, representing the Wisconsin Alumni Association. During that period for a couple of years, the Athletic Department took coaches from all sports and senior staff on a June bus tour around the state promoting the programs. At the time, we lived in Oostburg and one of the tour stops was at nearby Kohler. Kohler had raised a large tent in the community shopping center parking lot, and the alumni and public had the opportunity to meet and talk to coaches and former athletes which drew a large enthusiastic crowd. As the event was winding down, and people were leaving, it started to rain. Since our car was not close to the tent, we waited for the rain to let up. When it did, we were walking to our car when the door opened on one of the buses carrying the coaches and staff parked about 25 yards from where we were. Barry popped out flagged us down just to say “hello” and spend a couple of minutes visiting with us. He wanted to know our opinion on whether this event was successful from our perspective. ... It was! Totally unsolicited, and unexpected!
Our daughter Nathalie McFadden was born two weeks early — August 24, 1990 — so she could attend Barry’s debut against the California Golden Bears — and she did!!! It was the start of an uninterrupted love affair with UW, as an exceptional institution and UW Sports. Nathalie grew up on Langdon Street so was fully immersed in Saturday Game Day culture. While she moved to Chicago after graduating from UW-Madison, five years ago she returned to work at the UW Foundation and Alumni Association in her dream job promoting all things Bucky.
It's sad to see Mr. Alvarez move on but I can't say that the news really shocked me. I believe it's critical to make the right hire for his replacement because we've seen programs across the country such as Nebraska and Tennessee falter, leading from bad administration. I'm sure Barry with have a helping hand in deciding his replacement.
Barry did an amazing job resurrecting most of Badger athletics, with one glaring deficit. His frank unwillingness to bring back baseball will be remembered as an unfortunate and lasting error that kept him below the pinnacle of the truly great— Steve Hill (@MrCoachSteve) April 6, 2021
In 2011 I went to a gala and Barry was there. My gf and I found ourselves standing at a table next to him and I was so starstruck I could barely mutter "hello" with a nervous smile which he kindly returned. Thanks for everything coach!— Matt Beemsterboer (he/him) (@mbeemsterboer) April 6, 2021
Beano Cook always said in the late 80s that @BadgerFootball was the sleeping giant of the Big Ten and Donna Shalala also recognized this possibility and acted on it. When Barry Alvarez was hired during my senior year at @UWMadison , I thought that something special could happen.— richard kalson (@rdk1212) April 6, 2021
Eric M. Tostrud
They definitely need to name the field after him. Alvarez Field at Camp Randall. He remade UW Sports.— Eric M. Tostrud (@EricTostrud) April 6, 2021
I think their should be some discussion on the coaches he has helped bring in. Besides women’s basketball, is there a sport that hasn’t had success during Barry’s tenure?!— Chris Ehle (@CJ_Ehle) April 6, 2021