Coach Kelly Sheffield with Badgers volleyball, UW file photo (copy)
UW ATHLETICS COMMUNICATIONS

No. 7 Wisconsin (10-1, 1-1 Big Ten at Iowa (12-3, 1-1)

Friday, 7 p.m. at Carver-Hawkeye Arena

Series: Wisconsin leads 54-29-1; 24-11 in Iowa City

No. 7 Wisconsin at No. 8 Nebraska (9-3, 2-0)

Saturday, 7 p.m. at Devaney Center

Series: Nebraska leads 18-3-1; 9-1 in Lincoln

Iowa

Coach: Bond Shymansky, Iowa record 57-54 (4th year); career 347-163 (16th year)

Players to watch:

Taylor Louis, OH, 6-3, Jr. (3.51 kps/.344)

Claire Sheehan, OH, 6-1, Fr. (2.72 kps/.160)

Jess Janota, MB, 6-3, Sr. (2.25 kps/.311; 1.02 bps)

Gabrielle Orr, S, 5-10 S (11.35 aps)

Annika Olsen, DS, 5-8, Sr. (4.46 dps)

The skinny: The Hawkeyes opened Big Ten play with a sweep of Rutgers and a 1-3 loss at Penn State … Taylor Louis has made an immediate impact after transferring from Marquette, where she was a first-team All-Big East selection last season, averging 4.44 kills per set. In 2015 she set the MU record for kills (611) and kills per set (4.93). She had 17 kills against Penn State … Louis is one of six transfers on the Iowa roster – Ashley Smith (Nebraska-Omaha), Meghan Buzzerio (Arizona), Kelsey Reuter (Missouri), Annika Olsen (Georgia Tech) and Kelsey O’Neill (Pittsburgh) … Iowa ranks 12th in Big Ten in hitting percentage (.258), 6th in opponent’s hitting percentage (.172) and 14th in blocks (1.62 per set).

Bond Shymansky says: “We started off shaky on Saturday at Penn State, but we thought it showed a lot of grit and character for our group when we started to be competitive. We have the capability and skillset to beat great teams and be a great team. The last step is the belief that we can.”

Kelly Sheffield says: “Bond’s got them feisty. They compete like crazy, they believe in each other and the culture is really strong. He’s gotten a lot of transfers. Sometimes those teams that rely a lot on transfers, the culture isn’t great. From afar, it certainly looks like their culture is in good shape. Defensively, they play really hard and very fast offensively.”

Nebraska

Coach: John Cook, Nebraska record 508-68 (18th year); career 668-141 (25th year)

Players to watch:

Mikaela Foecke, OH, 6-3, Jr. (3.28 kps/.243; 2.62 dps; 12 aces)

Annika Albrecht, OH, 6-0, Sr. (3.05 kps/.258; 2.78 dps)

Jazz Sweet, Opp., 6-3, Fr. (2.55 kps/.304)

Briana Holman, MB, 6-1, Sr. (2.43 dps/.333; 1.16 bps)

Kelly Hunter, S, 5-11, Sr. (10.48 aps; 2.48 dps)

Kenzie Maloney, L, 5-8, Jr. (4.45 dps)

The skinny: The Cornhuskers gave notice they are a serious threat to repeat as Big Ten champions as they opened the season with a sweep of then-No. 2 Penn State and then swept Rutgers … They will face Minnesota on Friday night … Annika Albrecht was named Big Ten Player of the Week last week after averaging 5.17 kills and hitting .400. She had a career-high 19 kills at Penn State. She was a defensive specialist for most of the past two seasons … Kelly Hunter was named Setter of the Week with 12.33 assists per set in the sweeps. Hunter missed the first two matches of the season with an injury as the Huskers lost to Florida and Oregon. Their other loss was to Northern Iowa … The Huskers rank 8th in the Big Ten in hitting percentage (.270), 3rd in opponent’s hitting percentage (.142) and 9th in blocks (2.23 per set)

John Cook says: “It’s still early. I’ve told you we’re going to find out what this team’s about, and they took a step at Penn State, but that doesn’t mean we’ve arrive or we’re good. We’re trying to be great in the Big Ten right now and we’ve got to do it for nine weeks. Then we’ll talk about how good this team will be at the end of that.”

Sheffield says: “Like a lot of teams in the league (Nebraska) lost some really important pieces. Early losses they were without their starting setter and she’s really good. She’s one of the better setters in the country. But they look very similar to what they always do. They serve well, they’ll keep pressure on you behind the service line, it’s very difficult to get them out of system, they don’t get aced, which is typical with them. (Albrecht) is hitting at a real high level and they’ve got one of the most powerful hitters in the country in Foecke. She’s just a beast out there.”

Wisconsin

Coach: Kelly Sheffield, UW record 123-26 (5th year); career 396-138 (17th year)

Players to watch:

Dana Rettke, MB, 6-8, Fr. (3.33 kps/.453; 1.61 bps)

Tionna Williams, MB, 6-2, Jr. (2.55 kps/.442; 1.45 bps)

Lauryn Gillis, OH, 6-1, Sr. (2.79 kps/.278)

Kelli Bates, OH, 5-11, Sr. (3.25 kps/.299; 2.47 dps)

Sydney Hilley, S, 6-0, Fr. (11.92 aps; 1.97 dps)

Tiffany Clark, L, 5-11, So. (3.18 dps)

The skinny: The Badgers split their first two Big Ten matches, losing to Michigan State in 5 sets and then sweeping Michigan … Dana Rettke was named Freshman of the Week as she recorded career-highs of 19 kills against the Spartans and five service aces and nine blocks against the Wolverines … The Badgers rank 3rd in the Big Ten in hitting percentage (.325), 1st in opponent’s hitting percentage (.122), 1st in assists (13.56) and 2nd in blocks (3.17) … Rettke and Williams rank 4th and 5th, respectively, in hitting percentage. Rettke is 3rd in blocks and Sydney Hilley is 2nd in assists.

Sheffield says: (On Tiffany Clark’s first weekend as libero) “I thought Tiff handled the position really well, which doesn’t surprise me or any of her teammates at all from what we’ve seen. Very steady, competitive, passed well, passed at 2.6-2.7, which is a really high number. I thought defensively she was flying around, making some really nice plays. And I think everybody else has handled that change. Their roles have kind of changed but people were responding the right way. Defensively, I thought M.E. (Dodge) was fantastic, Amber came in did some nice things behind the service line and we don’t win that second set (Sunday) without Sarah Dodd making two really strong defensive moves. I thought Tiffany did a great job of managing what had to be some interesting emotions, playing against her former teammates.”

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Dennis Punzel covers Wisconsin Badgers volleyball, women's basketball for the Wisconsin State Journal.