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Dana Rettke photo

UW middle blocker Dana Rettke has been named to the USA Volleyball 30-player preliminary roster for the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League.

The University of Wisconsin volleyball team will challenge itself with a schedule packed with NCAA tournament teams.

The Badgers, coming off a 25-7 season in which they advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament, will face 11 teams that played in the tournament last year, including nine that were ranked in the top 25 of the final American Volleyball Coaches Association poll.

“It’s certainly a challenging schedule,” coach Kelly Sheffield said. “We have 11 matches against teams that were in the Sweet 16 last year, including seven matches against teams that were in the Elite Eight. Of our eight non-conference matches, six of them are against teams that made the NCAA tournament.”

The Badgers will open the season on Aug. 30-31 with the sixth annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge, hosted by North Carolina. UW and Minnesota will represent the Big Ten against the Tar Heels and Florida State. The Badgers, who have participated in each of the Challenges, will open against Florida State and then meet North Carolina on the second day.

“We are excited to continue our scheduling partnership with the ACC again this year and open the season against Florida State and North Carolina,” said Sheffield. “This is our sixth season and it has produced some really good matches.”

UW’s home opener will be Sept. 5-6 with the HotelRED Invitational, facing in-state rival Marquette the first night and Baylor the next. Baylor also will play against Syracuse on the opening day.

The Badgers then will travel to the Clemson Invitational to face South Carolina on Sept. 13 and Clemson on Sept. 14.

They will close out the non-conference season by playing home-and-home matches against Washington, hosting the Huskies on Sept. 19 and traveling to Seattle for a rematch on Sept. 21.

“Although the Washington scheduling is a little unique,” Sheffield said, “we thought it was great for each team’s fan bases, and since we don’t open Big Ten play until the following Friday, it could work out.”

The Badgers will open Big Ten Conference play with three consecutive home matches, beginning with Purdue on Sept. 27.

UW will play home and away matches against Indiana, Penn State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Maryland, Michigan State and Nebraska. It will play Purdue, Illinois and Iowa at the UW Field House and will travel to Michigan, Ohio State and Rutgers.

“There’s not a lot to say about our conference schedule,” Sheffield said. “The Big Ten is the Big Ten — it’s always challenging.”

The NCAA tournament will begin Dec. 5-7, with the championship set for Dec. 19-21 in Pittsburgh.

Season tickets will go on sale June 3.

Team USA roster

UW middle blocker Dana Rettke, who will be entering her junior season, was named to the USA Volleyball 30-player preliminary roster for the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League. She will join former UW setter Lauren Carlini in competing for a spot on the final roster for the 16-nation event, which was won by the U.S. last year.

The roster will be trimmed to 25 players by May 11 and each nation can designate 14 players to compete in each of five preliminary rounds as well as the VNL Final Six to be held in China on July 3-7.

Rettke is one of eight middles on the preliminary roster and Carlini is one of four setters competing for a spot.

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