Badgers Volleyball advances to national championship

Badgers Volleyball advances to national championship

Third time’s the charm?

At least that’s what Wisconsin’s volleyball team is hoping as it heads to its third national championship game in program history — and in search of its first title — after upsetting No. 1 Baylor in four sets in the Final Four in Pittsburgh on Thursday night.

Wisconsin’s 12-set winning streak in the NCAA Tournament — the Badgers swept each of their opponents en route to the national semifinals — ended with a 27-25 first-set defeat to the Bears.

The No. 4 Badgers rebounded in a dominant second set, handing the Bears their 14th single-set loss this season, 25-21.

Hitter Molly Haggerty led the charge to open the third set, pushing Wisconsin ahead 10-6 before Baylor called a timeout. Out of the break, the Badgers roared to a 25-17 win to pull themselves one set from the title match.

Wisconsin had to fight its way back in the decisive fourth set. Baylor worked its way to a 14-10 advantage, but a pair of block assists and Bears service errors evened it up at 18. The Badgers turned it on from then and won seven of the match’s final eight points, winning the final set 25-19.

Baylor entered Thursday night’s match having won 87 of 100 sets this season, en route to a 29-1 seasons, but lost three of four sets to the Badgers.

Saturday night against either Minnesota or defending national champion Stanford will be Wisconsin’s first championship game appearance since 2013 (head coach Kelly Sheffield’s first season) and third overall (2000). The Badgers lost both of those matches.

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