WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUNDUP: Badger volleyball to face Penn State for the NCAA championship
Wisconsin has advanced to the championship match of the N-C-A-A women's volleyball tournament with an upset of top-seeded Texas. The Number-12 Badgers beat the defending national champion Longhorns three-sets-to-one last night in Seattle. Wisconsin became the lowest-seed ever to reach the title match, and will take on Penn State tomorrow night. The second-seeded Nittany Lions shut-out third-seeded Washington last night 3-nothing. The Badgers took charge early in their semi-final, and eliminated Texas 25-19, 25-18, 26-28, 25-23. It was only the second time all season that the Longhorns lost their first two sets. Lauren Carlini had 50 assists and 12 digs for the Badgers. Ellen Chapman had 17 kills, and Deme Morales had 14 kills, as Wisconsin ended Texas' effort to become only the sixth team to win back-to-back national crowns. Texas had won 23 straight matches before losing in early September to Arizona State -- and they had a streak of 10 N-C-A-A Tournament victories that the Badgers snapped. Haley Eckerman, the Big 12 player-of-the-year, had 17 kills and nine hitting errors for Texas -- which only hit .156 for the match.
Green Bay Packers' defensive end Johnny Jolly is reportedly out for the season with a neck injury he suffered at Dallas last Sunday. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said Jolly suffered a bulging disc at his C-5 vertebra, and the swelling needs to go down before team doctors can decide whether surgery is needed. The injury was first announced as a shoulder problem after last Sunday's Packer victory over the Cowboys -- but further tests reportedly uncovered the bulging disc. The 30-year-old Jolly is an unrestricted free agent after this season. Packers' defensive end C-J Wilson returned to practice this week after being out with an ankle injury from last month. Rookie defensive end Josh Boyd is also getting more playing time. He has five tackles so far. Meanwhile, outside linebacker Nick Perry is not sure if he'll play on Sunday against Pittsburgh. The pain from his broken right foot flared up last week at Dallas. He had a sack and a forced fumble in two games after returning from his original injury.
The Packers plan to announce today whether quarterback Aaron Rodgers will play on Sunday against Pittsburgh at Lambeau Field. General manager Ted Thompson was at practice yesterday, and watched Rodgers take some snaps with the Number-One offense. Coach Mike McCarthy said Rodgers looks better, just over six-and-a-half weeks after he broke his left collarbone while being sacked against the Chicago Bears. McCarthy said Rodgers looks like he's ready to play, but Matt Flynn took most of the snaps -- and it would not be a surprise if he's named the starter against the Steelers. Flynn helped engineer second-half comebacks in Green Bay's last two games, both victories over Atlanta and Dallas. The Packers are 7-6-and-1, and they need to win their last two regular season contests against Pittsburgh and Chicago in order to make the playoffs for the fifth straight time.
For the eighth time in nine years, U-W Whitewater will play Mount Union of Ohio for the N-C-A-A Division-Three football championship. The Warhawks and Purple Raiders will meet again at the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl tonight in Salem Virginia. Whitewater missed the playoffs a year ago, after going 7-and-3. 'Hawks coach Lance Leipold (ly-pold) said quote, "When something is taken away from you, you have to go back and get it." Whitewater and Mount Union are both 14-and-0 this year. The Purple Raiders made the Stagg Bowl with a new but familiar head coach -- Vince Kehres, the son of Larry Kehres who retired as coach a year ago after leading Mount Union to its 11th national crown. He remains the athletic director. Vince Kehres, who's 37, ran the Purple Raiders' defense for his father -- and Leipold said it looks like the team has not missed a beat. Mount Union quarterback Kevin Burke won the Gagliardi Trophy on Wednesday, the Division-Three equivalent of the Heisman. He has thrown for 35-hundred-14 yards and 44 touchdowns this year. Whitewater's field general, quarterback Matt Behrendt, has thrown for three-thousand-41 yards, 36 touchdowns, and only one interception. Whitewater won four of its first seven title matches against Mount Union, including their most recent tilt in 2011. Tonight's game starts at six on E-S-P-N-"U."
Milwaukee Bucks' small forward Caron Butler could return tonight, when the Bucks play at Cleveland. Butler, a Racine native, has missed 11 games with swelling in his left knee. He said he's feeling much better, and he hopes to play against the Cavaliers. Meanwhile, starting power forward Ersan Ilyasova is expected to miss at least a couple of games. Coach Larry Drew said Ilyasova is not doing well, as he has tried to play through a sore right ankle. Bucks' back-up guard Gary Neal will also miss tonight's contest, after he had boot placed on an injured left foot that's been occasionally bothering him since Training Camp in October. The injuries have given other players some opportunities -- including the N-B-A's youngest player, 19-year-old Giannis Antetokounmpo. The rookie forward had 10 points and seven rebounds in his first career start in Wednesday night's home overtime loss to New York. Drew said Anteokounmpo could remain a starter for a while. The coach said he plays the right way with lots of energy -- and he can affect a game with his defense. The Bucks are 5-and-20. They'll play a Cavaliers' team that's 9-and-15.