Panthers fall to reigning champion Wisconsin in spring game


The UNI volleyball team put up a strong showing against defending national champion Wisconsin during their spring season, but ultimately lost the match.


After a string of disappointing results at the UMKC tournament last week, the UNI Panthers looked to bounce back before they host their spring tournament on April 23. That recovery game would be a tall order, as the Panthers made the trek to Dubuque to take on the reigning national champion University of Wisconsin. The Badgers boasted a 31-3 record last season, which included a 17-3 record in the Big Ten and their NCAA Championship victory over Nebraska. The Badgers had also won each of their three spring games going into this match. 

But even with all the pedigree and stats working against them, the Purple & Gold won control of the match early on by winning the first set 25-21. It was a shocking early upset against the Badgers, who relied on their quick offense to get themselves ahead of their opponents. While the Panthers got the early accomplishment by taking a set against the champions, the real task would be to take at least two more to seal the match. 

That task proved to be too difficult for the Panthers immediately, with the Badgers winning the subsequent set 25-17. The newly transferred Sydney Reed led the Badgers in the set with a string of aces, as she totaled four on the day.

The Badgers would take the advantage with the third set as they won it 25-19. The Panthers were able to keep it close early in the set, but the Badgers’ length and blocking ability became too much to overcome. Wisconsin won the block category for the match with 14 compared to UNI’s six And then, finally, the Badgers completed the reverse sweep by winning the fourth set 25-23. 

One of the silver linings in the loss was that the Panthers held the Badgers to their lowest hitting percentage of the season with .211. But that lining didn’t help out much as UNI only mustered a .185 hitting percentage. 

The Panthers will head home to end their spring season as they host both Iowa State and Iowa, as well as North Dakota State and Missouri, in the annual UNI Spring Tournament. The team will post a quadruple-header on Saturday as all matches will take place in succession inside the WRC. All tickets are free, with the first match on the day being against NDSU starting at 9 a.m.