Carlini’s absence leads to setback

first_imgBRYAN FAUST/Herald photoThe biggest loss suffered this weekend by the University of Wisconsin volleyball team was not dropping matches to either Ohio State or Penn State, but, rather, the loss of outside hitter Maria Carlini to injury.The Badgers started the weekend off on the right foot, taking the first two games against the Buckeyes, but then it was Carlini’s foot that gave Wisconsin problems.”In the third game, we ended up taking out Maria Carlini due to a [foot] injury and we started fading a little bit after that,” head coach Pete Waite said at a press conference Monday. “[Ohio State] played with fire with their home crowd, went five games and it was kind of a gut-wrenching loss where we thought we had a good road win.”Then at Penn State, we decided not to play Maria, she was just in too much pain playing.”Waite denied having any hangover against Penn State after the heartbreaking loss to Ohio State the night before — it was simply not having Carlini out on the floor that amounted to the Badgers’ 3-0 loss to the Nittany Lions.”The tough part was not having Maria on the court to start with,” Waite said. “Obviously, you’re going to take a notch down when you do that.”With the four-year starter out of the lineup, UW lost one of its best hitters — but, even more so, one of its top leaders as the senior floor captain.”She’s one of our best attackers and one of our best blockers,” Waite said of Carlini. “She passes in our passing formation and just as far as her leadership abilities; we lose all of those things.”Waite is hoping Carlini will be able to return this weekend as Wisconsin faces Purdue and Indiana at the Field House.While Waite would like to get Carlini into practice, he will likely keep her out for most of the week. However, it wouldn’t be anything new.”She’s actually been dealing with this foot injury for two weeks and has been wearing a boot every time she’s not in the gym, walking around campus,” he said. “It’s a tough thing in our sport because every time you approach, you pound your feet and pound your heels, and every time you land, you do the same thing. She actually said even in the warm-ups on Friday it was hurting her, but didn’t tell us because she wanted to gut it out and she just couldn’t by the third game, we had to take her out.”Even though it’s frustrating not to have Carlini in practice as the team then has to adjust timing when she gets back out on the court for matches, Waite looks at it in a more positive light.”I always look at it where it’s someone else gets a chance to step up in practices and get the court time and get the experience so we’ll be deeper in the long run,” Waite said.The “BIG” TenWith five teams in the AVCA top 25, the Big Ten has been regarded as one of the toughest conferences in the nation this year.After this weekend’s matches, Penn State and Purdue remained at No. 2 and 9, respectively; Wisconsin dropped one spot to No. 14 and Ohio State fell to No. 16 after edging the Badgers and losing to Minnesota — now No. 23 — the following night.But it isn’t the top-ranked teams that make the conference tough this year, according to Waite; it’s the feisty ones that aren’t ranked.”I can’t remember a year recently where we’ve had four or five teams in the top 25, and the biggest thing is the lower-level teams are coming up,” Waite said. “Even though they’re not ranked, they’re much stronger than they used to be. It’s tough.”Much of the reason why the Big Ten has emerged as one of the better conferences as of late is the talent in the Midwest.”[Recruiting] is becoming very early so it’s becoming very regional, also,” Waite said. “So if we don’t get them here within the Midwest, they’re still staying in the Big Ten and you’re still seeing those kids.”Just take a look at Wisconsin’s freshmen this year, who were ranked fifth by Volleyball Magazine. Setter Nikki Klingsporn is from Minnesota and prized outside hitters Caity DuPont and Brittney Dolgner are products of the state of Wisconsin.While Klingsporn is likely to redshirt this season, barring some unforeseen injuries, DuPont and especially Dolgner have adjusted to the college game quickly.”DuPont and Dolgner are doing great,” Waite said. “DuPont came in on Saturday and actually did some nice things for us in her first actual game-time this year and Dolgner’s leading us in kills almost every match so that says a lot for the young crop.”last_img

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