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Friday September 1, 2000Wisconsin Goes 2-0 in UF SunTrust Invitational

Gainesville, FL

For the first time under coach Pete Waite, the University of Wisconsin volleyball team opened its season with two wins. The 16th-ranked Badgers defeated Ball State University 15-10, 15-4, 15-8 in the opening round of the SunTrust Invitational before downing Nevada-Las Vegas 15-5, 15-0, 15-1 in the second round.

The Badgers were led by a UW record .842 hitting percentage by Sherisa Livingston against Ball State giving Waite his first season-opening win as a Badger coach.

In the evening match, Wisconsin held UNLV to only six points, tying the UW record for fewest points given up in a match.

"It feels really good to get that opener against a solid team that happened to be my alma mater," said Waite, who is a 1981 graduate of Ball State. "We took a very good Ball State team, one who is their defending conference champion and returns all six starters, and really made them struggle on their side of the net."

Livingston led the Badgers with 16 kills on 19 attempts with no errors for her UW match record. She broke the old record of .765 percent set by Allyson Ross against Michigan in 1997. Livingston added a match-high eight blocks to her impressive start.

"(Sherisa) was awesome in the match," said Waite of his junior middle blocker. "Ball State could not stop anything she touched."

Wisconsin dominated at the net with four players in double-figure kills. Jenny Maastricht, who struggled early in the match with her change to a new position, recorded nine kills in Game 3 to finish with 14 kills. Junior transfer Sara Urbanek and redshirt freshman Claudia Rodriguez each put down 10 kills for the Badgers. Wisconsin finished with a 64-54 advantage in kills while hitting .375 percent compared to .176 percet for Ball State.

The Badgers finished with a 12-6 advantage in blocks behind Livingston. Lizzy Fitzgerald and Meggan Kohnen added four and three blocks, respectively. Wisconsin also recorded 12 blocking errors as first-match jitters put the Badgers into the net too many times.

"I knew there would be some jitters where we played too excited," said Waite. "Once we settled into place, better things happened."

Wisconsin also finished with the backcourt advantage recording 58 digs compared to only 39 for Ball State. Fitzgerald led all players with 15 digs. Three other Badgers had double-figure digs*13 from Urbanek, 12 from Kohnen and 11 from Maastricht.

The Badgers had even less trouble with the Runnin* Rebels downing them in only 48 minutes. Wisconsin held UNLV to a negative .135 hitting percentage while connecting on .365 percent of its shots. Livingston and Maastricht each put down 11 kills to lead the UW to a 39-11 advantage.

"I was happy that we maintained a high level of play against a team that was struggling against us," said Waite. "Compared to the first match, everyone was less excited which reflected in the strong play throughout the match."

Kohnen recorded a career-high nine blocks to lead Wisconsin to a 9-2 blocking advantage. Rodriguez added a career-high five blocks.

Fitzgerald recorded 35 assists at setter and led all servers with three service aces. The Badgers also used the match as an opportunity to make some line-up changes. Freshman Lisa Zukowski got her first collegiate kill while Lori Rittenhouse also saw some playing time.

The Badgers wrap up play at the invitational on Saturday when they take on ninth-ranked Florida at 3:30 p.m. ET.

"We're excited about the match against Florida," said Waite. "We have a chance to pull an upset against a higher ranked team on their home court."

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