One last shot for Badger seniors

first_imgHerald file photoFor University of Wisconsin volleyball’s six seniors, this weekend marks the beginning of an end.Last season, Wisconsin fell short of its goal to reach the Final Four and possibly compete for a national championship when it lost to Texas in the Sweet 16. With just one last year to make it to the top, the seniors — Amanda Berkley, Maya Carroll, Megan Mills, Jackie Simpson, Taylor Reineke and Jocelyn Wack — are looking forward to the upcoming season.”There is a little bit of (a) sense of urgency,” Wack said. “Your last year, you want to get to the Final Four; you want to get to the national championship. We still [have] a lot of stuff to work on, but that’s what the spring season is for.”Led by the strength of its senior leadership, head coach Pete Waite sees his team on the cusp of achieving its goals. “It’s really noticeable in practice how much [the seniors] have matured since last fall,” Waite said. “When they get down to the end of their careers, they care even more, and they understand there is not a lot of time left, so they fight harder to be a great team.”The team’s quest to reach the top begins this Saturday when the Badgers travel to Ames, Iowa, to play in the Iowa State Spring Invitational. At the tournament, Wisconsin (26-7 in 2006) will take on host Iowa State (17-11). The last time these two teams met, in the second round of the 2006 NCAA tournament, UW upended ISU. Wisconsin will also take on Creighton (21-10) and Missouri-Kansas City (8-23) Saturday. All matches will be two games played to 30 points. While the Badgers are looking forward to getting on the court and playing competitive volleyball again, this weekend — and the rest of the spring — will be used to determine the best lineup for the fall season.”I think a lot of it is getting people in new positions and a lot of reps,” Simpson said. “We’re going to try a lot of different lineups and kind of see where the pieces of the puzzle can fit.”Aside from ironing out the lineup and building up the team chemistry to make a deeper push in next season’s NCAA games, this weekend will provide UW the opportunity to revisit one of its former assistant coaches, Christy Johnson, who now coaches the Cyclones. “It’s going to be really fun,” Wack said of playing against Johnson. “I only had her as a coach for a year, but she was a great coach when she was here. It’s always fun playing against people that you know or coach you, so it will be interesting.”In order for the Badgers to make it to the top next season, they will need to find a way to replace departed seniors Amy Bladow, Maria Carlini and Katie Lorenzen. It may be easier said than done.”For who they were, you can never totally replace them, and that’s what everybody will say,” Waite said. But with last year’s seniors gone, Simpson sees this spring as a chance for players like Katherine Dykstra, Caity DuPont and other young players to step up and be ready to make an impact in the fall.”It’s not so much replacing [the seniors] but finding how to create a new team,” Simpson said. “The girls that we have here are ready to step into some new roles and try some things out.”last_img