After a chaotic Championship match, the Badgers are (finally) on top.
It’s official: Wisconsin are D1 Women’s Volleyball Champions for the first time ever. Their victory against Nebraska on Saturday was certainly hard-fought––they dropped the first set and had to save four separate set points in the second––but well-deserved, as evidenced by their 7–0 run in the final set of the match.
Plenty of post-match discussions will be focused on Wisconsin’s game-winning point that got scratched after Nebraska requested a video review. Since the decision was made after the would-be victors had already started celebrating, one might think that they would’ve been rattled and off their game once the match resumed.
But the Badgers kept their cool. “During the challenge we kind of just kept making eye contact with each other, looking at each other in the eye, saying, ‘All right, if this doesn’t go our way, we’re still playing volleyball,’” said Wisconsin libero Lauren Barnes. And “play volleyball” they did; when the game picked back up, Dana Rettke forced a Nebraska error, and the revelry ensued once again.
Saturday’s National Championship match on ESPN2, delivered nearly 1.2M viewers for @BadgerVB‘s thrilling 5-set win over @Huskervball – making it the most-viewed women’s college volleyball match ever on ESPN networks!#NCAAVB pic.twitter.com/8LvrSMLLsU— NCAA Women’s Volleyball (@NCAAVolleyball) December 21, 2021
Even though Wisconsin clinched the Championship in the end, the biggest winner of the match was arguably D1 Women’s Volleyball as a whole. The game on Saturday broke the NCAA Championship match attendance record; its live stream raked in almost 1.2 million viewers on ESPN2. Hopefully, these successes will spread to next year’s Championship––and to Athlete’s Unlimited’s upcoming season, which will feature a few familiar faces from the final. But for now, it’s important to celebrate all that Wisconsin has accomplished over the past few weeks. For the first time in history, they got the fairytale ending they deserved.