Badgers set sights on Final Four

first_imgView Gallery (2 Photos)The 2006 Wisconsin volleyball team fell short of its goal to make it to the NCAA Final Four when it lost to Texas in the Sweet 16.Now with more than half the roster comprised of upperclassmen — including five seniors — the team is poised to make a run at the ultimate goals of reaching the Final Four and winning a Big Ten title.”This is something we planned on and have been excited for since this class came in as freshmen,” head coach Pete Waite said of his senior class.”And we had four or five starters at that time, so their experience level has risen each year, their focus has gotten better and now they have an urgency to finish with a great season.”Even with an experienced team, Waite will have to find a way to replace three seniors — Amy Bladow, Maria Carlini, and Katie Lorenzen — who graduated after last season. “You just kind of fill in the hole, and we have people waiting in the wings,” Waite said. “Kat Dykstra is looking really good in practice, as is Morgan Salow. … In the middle, with Bladow gone we got Audra Jeffers, who can be in there or Salow. So we got some nice options. We’re even a little bit bigger.”Also looking to contribute this year are two incoming freshmen: Allison Wack — the sister of senior libero and co-captain Jocelyn Wack — and Kim Kuzma.”The freshmen are awesome,” Wack said. “There are only two of them, which is a little bit different from the last couple of years, but they are very experienced and very mature as players. “They are definitely embracing everything the coaches are giving them, everything the players are giving them. They are doing awesome and the fans are going to see great things out of them this year.”In an effort to gain more experience, Waite took his squad to Europe this summer to play against teams in Italy, the Czech Republic and Slovenia. “We saw a lot of different styles of play out there and different levels of maturity,” Wack said. “They were a little bit older, and you could just tell how experienced and composed and just calm the other teams were. That was something we really wanted to take away from our European Tour, just staying calm while we are playing.”Since getting back from the European trip, the Badgers have been working on taking their game to the next level by becoming more consistent with their play. “Consistency on road matches [is big],” senior co-captain Taylor Reineke said. “In previous years, we have gone away to other gyms, and we didn’t play as well as we had hoped. I think we need to work on being more consistent on the road.”Wisconsin will also need to find a way to top four-time defending Big Ten champion Penn State if it is going to win its first conference title since 2001.”You pretty much are going to have to make it through Big Ten play with maybe at most one loss,” said Waite about what it will take to win the conference. “You’ve got to beat people not only on your own court, but on the road, which is very tough. We split with [Penn State] last year. Now we have to do the same with Minnesota and take care of them and then try and get that win at Penn State.”This team is totally capable of it. I think they have the ability this year more so than in the last four or five years.” Regardless of what this season ultimately becomes, the players and coaches are looking forward to what should be a fun ride.”I’m excited to just get back on the court and play in front of the fans here,” Reineke said. “I’m excited for every match.”Carroll leaves teamSenior middle blocker Maya Carroll decided to leave the team this summer. According to Waite, Carroll was offered an internship with the Big Ten Network where she will be a sideline reporter for football and volleyball games.”That is just a great thing as far as her résumé and the experience she can get for her future career,” Waite said. “We will miss her, but I couldn’t be happier for her for the opportunity.”In her three-year career with Wisconsin, Carroll appeared in 11 games notched 11 kills, with a .333 hitting percentage.last_img read more

Wimbledon 2016: Venus Joins Serena in S’final

first_imgUnseeded Russian Vesnina thrashed Slovakian 19th seed Cibulkova 6-2 6-2 in the remaining quarter-final on court one.Venus Williams showed she remains a real threat on the All England Club grass with an impressive win over world number 96 Shvedova.The champion in 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007 and 2008 made it through to her first Grand Slam semi-final since the 2010 US Open.At 36, she is the oldest major semi-finalist since Martina Navratilova finished runner-up at Wimbledon in 1994.“I love playing the game,” said Venus Williams, who slipped outside the world’s top 100 in 2011 after being diagnosed with the immune system disease Sjogren’s Disease. “When you’re winning matches it makes it that much sweeter.”The American, who played her first Wimbledon in 1997, recovered from losing an early break to win the opening set tie-break from 5-2 down.She then dominated the second set, racing into a 5-1 lead and holding off signs of a Shvedova comeback to serve out the win.“What a tough day on the court,” Venus added. “The tie-breaker, it felt like she would win. I felt like my opponent was on fire.“I felt like the crowd enjoyed all the great points. She got them involved in the last game. We gave them good tennis today.”Serena Williams’ presence in the semi-finals is far less of a surprise than that of her sister, but the world number one needed to be at her best to see off Pavlyuchenkova.The American, 34, converted the only two break points of a desperately tight contest, the first with a crushing backhand return in the opening set, the second thanks to a Pavlyuchenkova double fault in the second.Williams, the six-time and defending champion, fired down 11 aces and 29 winners as she closes in on a 22nd Grand Slam singles title.“It was good,” she said. “I am excited to be able to win and get through, it felt really good. I knew Venus was up 5-1 and then I saw (the result) on the court (scoreboard), so I was like ‘Yay’.“I am just trying to win my match. I knew I had a tough opponent and one thing I have learnt this year is just to focus on the match.”Vesnina completely dominated against Cibulkova, who appeared to run out of energy after a successful run that began with winning the Eastbourne title ahead of Wimbledon.The Slovakian can at least take comfort that she does not have to postpone her wedding, which can now go ahead as planned on Saturday.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram Five-time champion Venus Williams on Tuesday reached the Wimbledon 2016 semi-finals for the first time since 2009 with victory over Kazakhstan’s Yaroslava Shvedova.Eighth seed Williams – at 36 the oldest Grand Slam semi-finalist for 22 years – beat unseeded Shvedova 7-6 (7-5) 6-3.An all-Williams final remains possible after top seed Serena beat Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4 6-4.In Thursday’s semis, Serena will play Russia’s Elena Vesnina and Venus will take on Germany’s Angelique Kerber.“We don’t really talk too much about it but we are playing doubles later, so we are just happy to be in the semi-finals,” Serena told BBC Sport.Asked about a potential final meeting, she added: “It will be great. Venus is such a tough opponent I want her to win so bad – not in the final if I am there, but if I’m not, I do.”Kerber, the fourth seed, beat Romanian fifth seed Simona Halep 7-5 7-6 (7-2) in the opening match on Centre Court.last_img read more