Badger sophomore Lauren Carlini is a potent threat every time she touches the ball.
Kelly Sheffield, second-year head coach for Wisconsin women's volleyball, has the challenge of coming up with an encore for last season. Wisconsin returns all but one player from last year's team, which made a dramatic run all the way to the NCAA Tournament championship match.
Already 5-0 on the season, Wisconsin opens its 2014 home schedule this Friday and Saturday, Sept. 12-13, in the HotelRED Invitational at the UW Field House. Miami, Missouri State and Ball State may end up being the latest victims to the Badgers' murderers' row –– and high expectations for the team aren't likely to diminish soon.
As it did last year, the Badgers' potent offense circles around sophomore setter Lauren Carlini. If you recall the days when the setter was the short kid on the team, you haven't seen how she plays the position. At 6'2", Carlini, who trained with the U.S. Women's National Volleyball Team this summer, is a dangerous multiple threat every time she touches the ball. She can distribute pinpoint sets to powerful outside hitters like seniors Ellen Chapman and Courtney Thomas, but blockers who try to cheat to the outside of the court will find Carlini driving home kills into the heart of the defense.
As last year's national runner-up, the team has only one step higher on the podium to reach. There's a long way to go until December, but thanks to Carlini, Wisconsin has already moved into the rarefied air of national contender. In the meantime, it's time for Badger fans to enjoy the show.