Badgers honor lone senior in 3-1 victory over Buckeyes

first_imgSenior night can bring out tears, hugs and levels of high emotion, but for senior Annemarie Hickey of the Wisconsin volleyball team Sunday, however, it was business as usual.Hickey, the lone senior on a team featuring four freshmen, three sophomores and seven juniors, was honored in a pre-game ceremony before the No. 14 Badgers (10-8, 9-7 Big Ten) took on Ohio State (16-12, 4-12 Big Ten) at the Field House in what was to be the final home game of her career.“With some kids, you get a little bit worried about senior night. They get all emotional and they’re bawling and crying and sending love letters to all the fans and everything else,” head coach Kelly Sheffield said. “And other people, they get themselves so worked up and they’re just so tight that they play poorly. But Anne’s a rock. She doesn’t get bothered. She’s going to bring it every night.”With many of her family members in attendance all sporting red shirts with her named spelled out on the back, Hickey remained calm and collected. Following the game, she reiterated that her primary focus was the battle going on between the lines and not the narrative surrounding that battle.“I can’t really focus on myself,” Hickey said of her mentality going into the game. “We came out there fighting and really wanted to beat the Buckeyes.”Hickey led her team to a 3-1 victory over the Buckeyes. After dropping the first set despite at one point holding a 17-10 lead, Wisconsin rallied to take the next three sets with relatively little problem.The win marked the team’s 20th of the season, the most for the program since winning 26 in 2007, which also marked Wisconsin’s last appearance in the NCAA Tournament where they reached the second round. After 12 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, Wisconsin became mired in a string of five seasons without any postseason play, and is looking to break that streak as it heads into the final matches of regular season play.It seems only fitting that one of the best players in Wisconsin history gets to end her Badger career with a chance to compete for a national championship. She ranks third at UW in career digs with 1,653 and third with 3.95 digs per set. She recorded 15 digs for 3.75 per set, right along with her career mark Sunday.“She’s had a great career. I think her last year is turning out to be her best year and also the team’s best year,” Sheffield said.Hickey also recorded her 18th double-digit digs game of the season, placing her in a tie for second-most in school history.As one of the teams with the least experience on its roster in the Big Ten and a first-year head coach, Hickey’s leadership has not gone unnoticed by her teammates or Sheffield.“Annemarie is probably one of the best leaders and captains I’ve had in my career,” said freshman setter Lauren Carlini. “She doesn’t get down on herself when she makes mistakes, she’s always looking out for the best of the team and she’s always looking for ways to help other people. I think that’s just really helped me and I’ve kind of taken some parts of her leadership and used it personally.”Sheffield wasn’t without words of appreciation for his 5-foot-8 senior from Oswego, Ill., either.“She will be remembered as one of the all-time greats that has played at Wisconsin. How could she not?” Sheffield said. “She is one of the best players in her time in the conference. She has had a great career and has given a lot to this program.”Wisconsin’s all-around superb play was impressive to their coach. Specifically, Sheffield noted something that often goes unnoticed: the Badgers excellent defensive play, led by its senior mainstay, Hickey, in the back.“I thought we defended really, really well in the backcourt. I thought our ‘small fries’ did a great job at keeping the ball off the floor. I think sometimes those little tikes don’t get enough credit, but they really were tough today.”Those “small fries” were able to rack up 70 digs, led by Hickey with 15 digs and closely followed by Thomas and sophomore libero Taylor Morey with 13 digs each, holding the Buckeyes to a .181 attack percentage Sunday.Moving forward, though Hickey’s career in the UW Fieldhouse has come to a close, she would be the first to tell you that there is still a lot that she wants to accomplish as a Badger.“There’s work to be done. We can always improve on one skill every day, no matter if you’re a freshman or you’re a senior. We’re going to keep working toward what we really need to be doing and I think that we still have a long way to go.”UW will finish its regular season on a four-game road stretch, traveling to Michigan State and Michigan next weekend.last_img