Volleyball: Sheffield looks for first win over Penn State in Big Ten opener

first_imgKelly Sheffield, head coach of the Wisconsin volleyball team, has never beaten Penn State in his time at Wisconsin.This Wednesday, Sept. 23, will mark his seventh attempt at victory when Wisconsin meets No. 1 Penn State in College Park, Pennsylvania, eager to renew hostilities.It will also be the two teams’ first match since last year’s NCAA Tournament quarterfinal, a match the Nittany Lions won 3-1 — their sixth consecutive victory over Sheffield’s Badgers.But Wisconsin finished just one win ahead of Penn State in the 2014 conference standings, and earned a Big Ten title in the process.While Penn State has won back-to-back national championships, Sheffield said his team’s inability to defeat the Nittany Lions has hindered just how legitimate that conference title is.“We won a Big Ten Conference championship last year,” Sheffield said. “That was something that was pretty big for us. I’m sure there are quite a few [Penn State players] that — although they won the whole enchilada — feel that’s rightfully theirs, and they’re probably going to be packing a little bit more juice as well.”With that in mind, Sheffield said his team is taking a good, hard look at itself heading into a match like this.“We go into every match believing that there is a way to win,” Sheffield said. “And we go into every match believing that we can win. It doesn’t matter if it’s [Penn State] or whoever else, but yeah, there is a little bit of an element.”Despite all the excitement and hope surrounding tomorrow’s match, it will still be a tough test for the Badgers.In 2015, Wisconsin is averaging 14.7 kills per set compared to Penn State’s 13.3 kills per set. But the Badgers’ numbers could significantly drop against a Nittany Lions team that averages 3.5 blocks per set.Coupled with Penn State’s impressive defense is Wisconsin’s disjointed play, an issue Sheffield acknowledged he and his staff are trying to sort out ahead of Wednesday’s game.Sheffield said his team needs to step up in just about every facet of their game Wednesday, but pulling off their first win over Penn State would be the first step in the direction of competing for a national title.“Our goal is to try to compete for a national championship,” Sheffield said. “We’re going against a team that has won the last two. Although their personnel is different, I think what it shows is you are going up against a program that has storied excellence to it and our players to want feel that.”last_img

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