MADISON – A weekly look at the Wisconsin volleyball team:
IN THE POLLS
UW finishes regular season ranked No. 2 in nation
Wisconsin (25-3, 19-1 Big Ten) closed the regular season with two top 10 wins in the final week and moved up one spot in the American Volleyball Coaches Association poll to No. 2. They clinched the Big Ten title outright with a 3-1 win at No. 5 Nebraska on Friday and posted a 3-1 win at No. 8 Ohio State on Saturday.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Gulce Guctekin leads strong defensive showing
The Badgers held Nebraska and Ohio State to a hitting percentage of .200 or below in closing out the Big Ten season. Guctekin, a freshman libero, averaged 5.38 digs per set during the matches, posting a career-high 28 digs against Ohio State and getting 15 digs and 25 serve receptions without an error against Nebraska. The Big Ten named her its defensive player of the week and co-freshman of the week.
Another year for Izzy Ashburn
Those paying close attention may have noticed that senior Izzy Ashburn did not participate in Senior Day. She’ll have a chance to do that next year as she intends to take her COVID year and return for her fifth season.
She said that has been the plan since she learned an extra year of eligibility was possible.
“It was never questioned in my mind of whether I want to come back our not,” she said. “This has been the best four years of my life. I might as well make it a fifth and come back and get a chance to play with this team another year.”
The Bramschreibers, Shanel and Cecily, meet again
One Badger who was especially happy to see that TCU would be coming to Madison for the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament was senior Shanel Bramschreiber. Her sister, Cecily, is an outside hitter for the Horned Frogs.
Their teams could meet for the second time this season in the second round. UW scored a sweep in the season opener.
Shanel sat out that match as a penalty for having contact with an agent. Cecily is the one who might be out this week; she has missed the last 21 matches due to a lower body injury.
The debate for Wisconsin or Louisville
There was much discussion by the NCAA selection committee about which team deserved the No. 2 overall seed behind Texas: Wisconsin or Louisville. The committee ultimately went with Louisville.
Based on what Pauline Thiros, chair of the NCAA Division I committee, said during the selection show the Cardinals’ strength of schedule, which ranked fifth, was key, as was the fact that their two losses came to teams that finished in the top of the RPI.
Wisconsin’s three losses came to No. 16 Baylor, No. 11 Florida and No. 9 Minnesota.
A late-season sweep of Pittsburgh, which received a No. 2 seed, may have helped Louisviille’s cause, too.
“They looked smokin’ hot in their sweep over Pitt and they just have some really good numbers overall,” Thiros said.
BY THE NUMBERS
.266 Hitting percentage for Wisconsin, tops in the Big Ten.
6 Consecutive matches Gulce Guctekin has had at least 10 digs.
16 Matches this season in which the Badgers had double-digit blocks.
Badgers begin title defense at home
Vs. Quinnipiac, 7 p.m. Friday at UW Field House: The Bobcats (14-14) are a first-time NCAA qualifier who made history as a No. 6 seed, becoming the lowest-seed ever to win the MAAC Tournament.
Vs. TCU-Washington winner, 6 p.m. Saturday: at UW Field House: A second-round matchup could pit the Badgers against TCU, which finished third in the Big 12 and owns a 16-10 record or Washington, which finished fourth in the Pacific 12 and is 20-10.
Our subscribers make this reporting possible. Please consider supporting local journalism by subscribing to the Journal Sentinel at jsonline.com/deal.
DOWNLOAD THE APP: Get the latest news, sports and more
This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Gulce Guctekin sets a personal best for digs for Wisconsin volleyball