Championships aren’t won in September. Neither are they lost.
That’s fortunate for the University of Wisconsin volleyball team, which entered the season with dreams of epic accomplishments, but was humbled for the second consecutive night on Friday.
No. 17 Baylor, behind 31 kills from dynamic outside hitter Yossiana Pressley, knocked off the No. 4 Badgers 21-25, 25-22, 27-25, 25-17 at the UW Field House.
That came one night after a grinding five-set loss to in-state rival Marquette.
UW coach Kelly Sheffield tried to take the long view when assessing the disappointing turn of events.
“We didn’t play well enough to win the match,” he said. “That might be the most Mr. Obvious thing I’ve ever said. It’s why we schedule these types of matches. We lost to two really good teams and we’ve got to get better.
“I don’t think there’s a magic pill or anything. We did some things well and too many things not well.
“You don’t hit the panic button. I think our team knows we’re a good team, but we didn’t play particularly well. It’s a long season. I think people are a little bit bummed tonight but you get back to work.”
On the plus side, the Badgers (2-2) won’t have to worry about playing Pressley again, at least until NCAA tournament time. The high-flying 6-foot junior, who had 32 kills in a victory against UW last year, nearly matched that effort Friday. She had 10 kills each in the second and fourth sets to carry the Bears (4-0).
“She’s one of the most unique and talented attackers we’ll see this season,” said senior libero Tiffany Clark. “She has a really high contact point, she jumps high, so it’s kind of like defending a guy. I think it’s really good practice for our defense against her.”
The Badgers played without redshirt senior opposite Madison Duello because of a minor injury. Junior Nicole Shanahan filled in for her.
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“She felt like she could go tonight, but it’s a long season,” Sheffield said. “There’s no reason to be pushing things. If this team is relatively healthy, I think we have a chance of being pretty darn good.”
That was pretty much the message that Clark, one of the three captains, stressed with her teammates, putting the best face on a tough couple of matches.
“It’s good that this happened early in the season,” Clark said. “Now we know where our weaknesses are and we can just grind on them in practice.”
Still, it was a humbling experience.
“Very,” Clark said.
Baylor 21 25 27 25
Wisconsin 25 22 25 17
BAYLOR (kills-digs-blocks) — Wulf 0-18-0, Stafford 9-3-2, van der Mark 7-1-2, Lockin 5-12-3, McGhee 4-1-6, Hunt 0-2-0, Coleman 0-0-0, Pressley 31-16-2, Bramschreiber 0-10-0, Milana 9-0-1. Totals 65-63-8.
WISCONSIN (kills-digs-blocks) — Barnes 0-9-0, Hilley 1-15-7, Ashburn 0-4-0, Shanahan 3-1-5, Rettke 11-1-9, Clark 0-18-0, Hart 6-1-5, Dodge 0-3-0, Loberg 14-1-1, Haggerty 16-3-1. Totals 51-56-14.
Hitting percentage — B .285, W .215. Aces — B 6 (Pressley 2), W 7 (Ashburn 3). Assists — B 64 (Lockin 51), W 50 (Hilley 40). Att. — 7,052.