University of Wisconsin head coach Kelly Sheffield has announced Tiffany Clark, ME Dodge, and Sydney Hilley as the team’s 2018 captains.
- See Also: Kelly Sheffield Joins the VolleyMob Podcast.
The 3-captain scheme is a drastic change from last season, where only one player, junior Amber MacDonald, was named captain, by a unanimous vote in spite of being injured and limited in her ability to play. She ultimately filed for a medal retirement and won’t play in 2018.
That opened the door for 3 new captains, and the Badgers will again be led by underclassmen: Clark (a Michigan transfer) and Dodge are juniors, while Hilley is a sophomore. That makes sense for a team that was one of the youngest in the country last year. They still advanced to the Sweet 16 where they lost to the defending national champions Stanford in 4 sets.
Clark and Dodge are the team’s two top liberos and defensive specialists, while Hilley started all 32 matches at setter as a freshman last year. The three represent the school’s top-3 returning digs leaders from last season.
The Badgers rank 4th in VolleyMob’s pre-season top 25 on the strength of how they finished last season. 6’8″ middle blocker Dana Rettke matured into one of the biggest forces in college volleyball and was named the 2017 VolleyMob National Freshman of the Year. The team also returns senior Tionna Williams, a two-time AVCA All-America Honorable Mention, in the middle. With the addition of 6’7″ freshman Julia Wohlert, who can play middle or opposite, plus the inclusion of redshirt freshman Danielle Hart, the Badgers will have one of the most imposing blocks in the country next season – enough so that some have speculated about what a three-middle offense would look like.
The bigger question-mark for Wisconsin will involve their hitters. The freshman Wohlert is their only listed opposite right now, though Rettke probably starts the season at opposite. The health of the outside hitters will pivot on whether-or-not redshirt sophomore Molly Haggerty plays. She missed all of last season after being named AVCA Third Team All-American as a freshman, and while has not been declared healthy for the 2018 season, head coach Kelly Sheffield has sounded optimistic on her return.