Image Credit: Wisconsin Athletics
I love how hard this Badgers team has worked all year to get to the national finals. And I don’t think they could have done it without Molly Haggerty. Now, I love the Badgers, so I think the whole team is great. But I’ve been really impressed with the 2019 class – more so than usual. There are some seniors moving on, which will definitely hurt, but their sophomores aren’t leaving. And their juniors aren’t leaving. And their redshirts aren’t leaving. That’s really what sets this team apart from a lot of other college teams. It’s their recruiting and their head coaching and development processes that really builds the Badgers.
Haggerty in Wisconsin
Haggerty is super quick, jumping in front of the ball with a strong arm at just the right times. She can also ace the ball against top-tier teams like Minnesota and Nebraska. But it’s about her – she does the hard work for her team. It’s not uncommon to see her sacrificing her body assisting and digging.
Her high school record is nothing to sneeze at, coming from St. Francis High School. She entered college at 6’0” and grew the extra inch she needed for the competitive edge in college. She had a total of 1182 kills during her time in HS. Her ability as an outside hitter is extraordinary.
Let me lay it out for you: one of the Badgers’ best games was against #7 Penn State. Wisconsin was ranked #5 at the time. Haggerty was 6 for 8 on kills at the beginning of the second set. That’s just one instance of Molly’s purpose for this team as an outside hitter. At this point I’m giving Haggerty the nickname of Molly “ the Missile” Haggerty. Even though her official nickname is “Molls.” And even though Wisconsin lost that match, Molly excelled through every set, including showing off her blocking abilities with teammate Dana Rettke.
Molly is a RS Junior and is entering her senior year with the program and with Kelly Sheffield as head coach. She’s playing with the best, and that’s the reason she chose to play and stay with the team. I’m expecting an even higher hitting percentage than what she’s producing now for the 2020 season. She’s hitting at .266 now, I expect her to average .308 which is one of her higher hitting percentages in a match against a top tier team.
He’s alive, we’ve created a monster
Sheffield, who is in his 7th year as head coach for the Wisconsin Badgers, has a .790 win percentage. He’s joined the elite club of head coaches. He’s also been coaching Sydney Hilley, the epitome of an Academic All-American with a very tough major. Sheffield says “Sydney achieves as much in the classroom as she does on the court.” Kelly puts a lot of pressure and tough love to the Badgers. He expects the very best from his recruits. He led Wisconsin to the third highest RPI nationally – just underneath Stanford (the 2019 National Champions.)
But Kelly loses three strong assets in the squad for the 2020 season: Libero Tiffany Clark, Defensive Specialist M.E. Dodge, and Outside Hitter Madison Duello. The 2020 class consists of three new Badgers: Jade Demps, M.J. Hammill and Devyn Robinson – all who have already signed their NLI.
It’s a big blow to Wisconsin to have Duello and Clark leave. Clark has done an exceptional job digging, and Duello has precision tactics that move the ball to open areas of the court as the front line of Wisconsin gets in position to block or dig during the rally.
Kelly’s Key Class of 2020
With three key players leaving, and three new recruits, let’s take a look at who Wisconsin will have at the leading their team in 2020.
Dana Rettke: The 6”8’ Middle Blocker is a powerful blocker and attacker, and her height gives her an edge. Coming out of HS, she had 1 block per set. Now she leads the team with 1.47 blocks per set. She also leads the team with the highest attack percentage (.401).
Molly Haggerty: She’s second on the team with 3.50 kills per set. But her height doesn’t quite stand out in comparison with Rettke. She had a season high of 24 kills against Minnesota and was named Big 10 Player of the Week in 2019. Additionally, she was named MVP of the Madison Regional.
Grace Loberg: She’s third on the team with 3.16 kills per set, standing at 6”3’ with her teammate Haggerty. It’s no surprise she’s the “silent assassin” next to Molly. Sheffield has said that Loberg is a six rotational player. We got a glimpse of this against Maryland, where she got her first service ace of the season against Maryland. She also keeps an attack that regularly adds kills to her record.
Sydney Hilley: She leads the team with the most assists (12.18 per set) and finished first in Big 10 play with 12.16 assists per set. She was named Big 10 Setter of the Week six times in 2019. Sydney joined Wisconsin because it’s a team that is excellent and being excellent in the classroom translates to her excellence within the program.
I think Sheffield will have an easier time deciding which players will play front and back, given that these key juniors will have reached their final years with the program. Wisconsin is an elite volleyball program, headed by an elite coach. Haggerty will excel along with her teammates, leading them to another national semifinal (at least) if not another national final. It’s time to jump around if you’re a fan of this team.