Wisconsin survives five-setter with Florida to advance to NCAA semifinals

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NCAA volleyball Florida advances 4/19/2021-Grace Loberg-Wisconsin volleyball
Wisconsin's Grace Loberg pops the ball over the block of Florida's Lauren Forte, left, and Marlie Monserez/Mark Kuhlmann, NCAA Photos

Top-seeded Wisconsin was taken to the limit in Omaha on Monday night before surviving a tough battle with eighth-seeded Florida to advance to the NCAA Tournament national semifinals.

Wisconsin (18-0), the Big Ten champion, won the regional final 30-28, 18-25, 25-22, 18-25, 15-12, capping the victory with Dana Rettke stuffing a shot by Florida’s T’ara Ceasar to the CHI Health Center floor. It puts the Badgers in the final four for the fourth time overall and third time since coach Kelly Sheffield took over in 2013, when Wisconsin lost in the national-title match. The Badgers also made it the 2019 national-championship match before losing to Stanford.

Wisconsin, which advanced by beating BYU on Saturday and accordingly had a day of rest the other seven teams in the final eight did not have, will play Texas, which beat Nebraska earlier Monday.

Rettke was magnificent, as always, with 16 kills while hitting .333 to go with three digs and five blocks. Molly Haggerty led with 17 kills, four digs, and a block. Grace Loberg had 10 kills but hit .000, and had nine digs and a block. Devyn Robinson had nine kills, three digs, and six blocks, and Danielle Hart had five kills and four blocks.

Sydney Hilley had a kill, 49 assists, 17 digs, and a block, but her team hit .153 in the fifth set. Lauren Barnes had 28 digs, two assists, and two aces, and Giorgia Civita had 17 digs, three assists, and two aces.

Florida (21-4), an at-large from the SEC, hit .170 but minus .042 in the fifth. Thayer Hall had 23 kills, an assist, 16 digs, and two blocks. Ceasar had 17 kills but hit .088 and had three assists, four aces, 19 digs, and a block. Lauren Forte had 10 kills with no errors in 17 attacks and added a dig and seven blocks. Holly Carlton had five kills but hit negative to go with an assist, an ace, a dig, and seven blocks.

Marlie Monserez had five kills, 46 assists, 22 digs, and three blocks. Elli McKissock had 23 digs, eight assists, and two aces.

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