In its first match in a string of four consecutive road matches, the Wisconsin volleyball team defeated No. 13 Purdue (18-5, 8-3 Big Ten) Wednesday night in three sets.The No. 4 Badgers (19-2, 9-1) fell behind early in the first set and were down to 21-14 at one point. UW battled back though, rattling off six points in a row to cut the Boilermaker lead to one. Wisconsin staved off four Purdue set points, and eventually tied it up at 26.Sophomore setter Lauren Carlini ended the set with two straight kills, catching the Boilermaker defense out of position. Carlini, who was named Big Ten Player of the Week Monday, leads the Big Ten in assists per set (11.4) and maintained that pace with 42 assists Wednesday.The Badgers handily took the second set 25-16. The third set was more tightly contested. With the Boilermakers up 18-17, the Badgers went on a 8-1 run to take the set and the match, en route to its tenth straight victory.Senior outside hitter Ellen Chapman led the way for the Badger offense with a match-high 16 kills. She leads Wisconsin in kills per set, averaging 3.05 kills per set before Wednesday’s match.Dominique Thompson led the Badger block with seven total blocks. She added 11 kills and hit at a .786 percentage. The senior middle blocker went into the match ranked sixth in the Big Ten in hitting percentage at a .356 clip.Reigning Co-Defensive Player of the Week, Taylor Morey, had a team-high digs against Purdue. The junior libero averaged 5.52 digs per set entering Wednesday’s match.The victory over Purdue distances the Badgers’ lead over the Boilermakers in the conference standings, as they now lead them by two games in conference play.Penn State defeated Ohio State Tuesday night, keeping themselves within a game of the Badgers.Carlini said her team relishes having the target on their backs.“I think we’re embracing that. We’re not shying away from it and getting nervous about games,” Carlini said. “We’re just going into every game and focusing on the other side of the net. We’re not looking ahead; we’re not looking in the past.”Being at the top of the conference halfway through Big Ten play is something Chapman didn’t experience her first three seasons at Wisconsin, but doesn’t mean anything just yet.“Even though we are at the top of the Big Ten I don’t think that’s something we spend time thinking about,” Chapman said. “I think it’s just staying competitive and staying hungry to beat our next opponent.”Looking AheadThe Badgers haven’t just been squeaking by in their wins. They’ve been dominating. Since losing to Penn State Sept. 24, not only has Wisconsin not lost, but they’ve won 33 of their last 34 sets. The last time they lost a set was the third frame Oct. 4 at Illinois, meaning they’ve won 22 sets in a row.UW head coach Kelly Sheffield said he has no trouble keeping his team grounded throughout their torrent stretch.“Our [strategy] is trying to play the game the right way and trying to get really, really good at the game,” Sheffield said. “So we’re constantly finding things we just gotta get better at and we gotta fix.”Sheffield said one thing the team has been working on is adding a variety of shots, trying different servicing patterns (as well as defending serves) and perfecting the timing of the block.In the first half of conference play, seven of Wisconsin’s 10 matches were played at home. The schedule flops for the second half, as the Badgers play seven road matches in the next 10 to close out the regular season.“We know that the second half of this conference is gonna be more challenging than what the first part of it was,” Sheffield said. “We’re on the road a lot more. That’s going to make it a heck of a lot tougher.Sheffield said that while match preparation slightly varies, there are components other than volleyball that arise with frequent travel.“I think a big part of it is taking care of the rest of the stuff in your life,” Sheffield said. “Managing your time because you’re gonna be missing more school, you’re gonna be missing more things here. You got to take care of stuff outside volleyball.”One of the primary points of emphasis is making sure his players are healthy, Sheffield said, citing the importance to keep the teams immune system strong as the weather gets colder and the team travels.Carlini voiced the team’s commitment to staying healthy and efficient time management.“It’s hard combining school, travel, games, all of these things,” Carlini said. “You gotta be great at time management and knowing how to get things done … planning ahead and knowing we gotta take care of our bodies and getting things done in a timely manner is going to be super important.”Chapman said that even thought the team faces a strenuous road schedule ahead, the team employs a one-match-at-a-time mentality to make it easier on them.“I think that’s one huge way that we keep our focus,” Chapman said. “Just learning the tendencies and everything of our opponent and just trying to get the next win is what we’re doing.”Other than a pair of tournaments to start the season, Wisconsin is amidst its longest road-trip of the season. The team will head back to the Hoosier state Saturday to take on Indiana. With no weekday game next week, the squad will do a Michigan-swing next weekend to take on Michigan and Michigan State.For Sheffield and the Badgers, it’s a one-game-at-a-time approach.“You just take every match that’s in front of you and you prepare like crazy,” Sheffield said. “You get ready to play the match of your life each and every time you take the court.”
One of the first next-gen games revealed to the world (sorry, Wii U) was Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs. When the game was first shown back at E3 2012, the gaming press immediately got the impression that the open-world-hack-em-up couldn’t possibly achieve its visuals and complexity on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. We soon learned that Watch Dogs was indeed a next-gen title, and would be appearing on the PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Now, however, Ubisoft will be pushing the game back to sometime in spring 2014.As is generally the case with high-profile games, Ubisoft has stated that the reason for the delay is to “deliver the best experience possible,” which tends to mean that the game wasn’t as optimized as the developer hoped. A few months isn’t that big of a delay for an unproven entity (in this case, a new IP) in the grand scheme of gaming, as there are a multitude of other titles you should probably catch up on.Where the delay really hits home, though, are the PS4 and Xbox One launch bundles. Amazon quickly stated that it’s honoring the PS4 bundle pre-orders, but the PS4 would ship without the game. Amazon didn’t make clear how it would handle the extra money spent on the game — either through a refund, or simply shipping Watch Dogs when it finally releases next year. GameStop will also be honoring the bundle pre-orders, and said that customers can either choose a different bundle, or receive the console now and Watch Dogs sometime later when it releases.Game delays are always a bummer, but what’s worse is when a game releases unfinished or without polish. Ubisoft’s delay is preventing the latter, so try not to be too upset.