The No. 8 University of Wisconsin volleyball won the first set, but No. 7 host Illinois rallied for a wild four-set victory in a Big Ten Conference match Saturday night at the UW Field House.
Despite late rallies in the third and fourth sets, the Badgers (12-4, 5-3 Big Ten) came up short against the Illini (16-3, 5-3). Illinois prevailed 23-25, 25-21, 35-33, 25-23.
"I thought it was a heck of a college volleyball match," UW coach Kelly Sheffield said. "It was two teams that have now played eight sets, and I'm not sure all eight sets couldn't have been any closer than what they've been. It's two evenly-matched teams.
"We let an opportunity go in the third, we weren't able to capitalize and that was a tough set to lose. I was proud of our fight there in the fourth."
Libero Tiffany Clark had a career night, collecting a career-best 26 digs to lead all players.
The Badgers, whose five-match home winning streak was snapped, hit .210 (63 kills, 26 errors on 176 attempts) compared to the Illini's .220 (66, 27, 177). Dana Rettke (19), Tionna Williams (12) and Grace Loberg (10) each recorded double-digit kills.
Loberg also tallied 10 digs for her fourth career double-double and Molly Haggerty joined in with 10 digs of her own but Illinois ended up with a slight 72-71 advantage in the backcourt.
The Illini also out blocked Wisconsin 15-13 despite Williams and Rettke each earning six stuffs.
"We didn't get the outcome we wanted but I saw a lot of growth in our team in every aspect," sophomor middle blocker Dana Rettke said. "Going forward, I think we just build on that mentality in the gym and have the right mentality with each other and we'll get better."
Illinois dominated at the service line, scoring eight service aces while the Badgers tallied only two aces.
After dropping the second set, UW came back from 24-22 in the third set to tie it at 24. UW went on to serve for the set eight times before Illinois scored three straight points to win the marathon set, 35-33.