In hindsight, University of Wisconsin volleyball’s opening match was just a hiccup.That’s how the Badgers are viewing that opening loss to Western Kentucky after pummeling Georgia in three straight sets en route to a victory Thursday night at the Field House.The convincing performance to open the Badger Classic brought Wisconsin’s win streak to five straight games as the No. 11 Badgers look to continue improving.“I thought we passed well,” UW head coach Kelly Sheffield said. “But even more so than that … I thought we transitioned really, really well. I thought we came up with some really nice defensive plays and played scrappy and controlled.”The Badgers and Bulldogs combined for some very entertaining and long rallies in front of a packed crowd, complete with the impressive transitions Sheffield mentioned.Wisconsin infuriated and frazzled Georgia’s attack with 47 digs and 21 total blocks in the match.Seemingly everywhere on the court, the Badgers’ defense smothered Georgia the entire night. Most notably in the second set when they held the Bulldogs to only six points.Wisconsin’s ability to keep the ball in play was only doubled by their ability to end rallies with super-efficient attacking play.In that same second set, the Badgers hit at an attacking percentage of 60 percent and recorded 17 kills.Sophomore Kelli Bates spearheaded the attack with 14 kills and an attacking percentage of 40.7 percent on the night. Aided by fellow sophomore Lauryn Gillis who was just behind with 12 kills of her own.Freshman Tionna Williams stepped into her own as well, starting the match and hitting at 100 percent with seven kills until her next attempt was kept alive late in the third set.While junior Lauren Carlini again worked her usual magic and provided 33 assists on the night.But possibly the most impressive performance all night was that of Taylor Morey, who went on a 14-point service run early in the second set.“It’s something that we work on in practice all the time,” Morey said. “It’s just being able to go back to the service line and clear your mind, whether you’ve served one ball, five balls or 10. We work a lot on our in percentage and that’s something that I try to take pride with, that my serve is serve confident and in the court.”Players pointed to the overall energy of the student section as a major driving force in their performance.“We’ve been looking for ways to find momentum,” sophomore Kelli Bates said. “So when we have a crowd as big as our student section was tonight, it’s really easy to find momentum and find that energy just because of the crowd’s feedback … the fans make it a lot easier on us to find that momentum.”With hefty momentum on their side, the Badgers look forward to Kent State team tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at the UW Field House.
Former England defender Alvin Martin has backed Gareth Southgate after the England Under-21 boss claimed that player development is more important than success.Martin was adamant that Southgate is the man for the job even if England get knocked out of the Under-21 European Championship and argues that England are on the right track, but everyone surrounding the national sides need to have patience.Talking to the Weekend Sports Breakfast show, the former West Ham player said: “We are miles behind Spain and Germany and we have to accept that. We can’t win ugly in tournaments, the likes of Brazil, the Dutch, Germany and Spain will trample all over us.“There are still problems for us, we’re still not there and we’re still probably a few more years from getting there but we are on the right track. That track has to go down every level, from the top with Roy Hodgson, all the way down to the Under-21s, 18s and 16s.On England’s chances of success in any up and coming tournament, the former Southend United manager said: “All the top teams have won all the top tournaments playing a certain way.“England have to look at how to get successful and how to become successful is by playing a certain style of football where your players can cope with the ball in tight situations, where there are risks that give them more chance of scoring than the opposition.“At the moment, we have got good attacking players at the senior level, but we are struggling defensively. But I would rather have it that way instead of fewer options up front.“But what I do know is that Roy Hodgson and Ray Lewington are on the right track with the national side and I think that Gareth Southgate is on the right level as well. We could get beaten by Sweden and knocked out of the competition but I would still keep him in charge and keep the way we are playing. Keep with it, and you will get fruition.”