Back from another weekend on the road, Wisconsin’s volleyball team began Big Ten play with a four-set victory against an unbeaten Northwestern team Friday and followed it with a five-set loss to No. 20 Illinois Sunday.Head coach Pete Waite, whose team now sits at 13-2 and 1-1 in Big Ten play, was pleased with the team’s performance to start off conference play.“I like what I’m seeing, they are progressing well, [the] Big Ten is here,” he said at the weekly press conference Monday. On Friday, UW displayed its progress by battling back from a 23-18 deficit in the third set to win 26-24 and take a 2-1 lead over the Wildcats. The Badgers went on to close the match with a 25-23 victory in the fourth set.“That was a really good road win for us,” Waite said, “I think it just showed [that] the team has come together and is pretty gritty, and that they’ll fight until the end.”Against Illinois, however, the team fell short, dropping the fifth set 15-9 and putting an end to its 11-game winning streak. The loss reminded the so-far winning Badger team they still have small areas in which they have to be more consistent late in the game. Despite the loss, the team showed determination by forcing a fifth set after being down 15-10 in the fourth game to the 2011 national title runner-up. “I thought we had a good shot at them,” Waite said. “That was a team that was in the national championship last year, and we nearly got them in five games but fell a little bit short.”Another positive of the weekend’s games came from strong individual play from sophomore Courtney Thomas and junior Annemarie Hickey. Thomas, the 6-foot tall setter, picked up her sixth and seventh double-double of the season while recording a career best 57 assists against the Fighting Illini. She averaged an impressive 12.56 assists and 2.44 digs per set on the weekend.Hickey, the 5-foot-8 libero, also stood out by returning to the top of the Big Ten rankings in digs per set, leading the league in all matches with 4.92.Wisconsin will be relying on Thomas and Hickey’s strong play as it looks to extend its unbeaten record at home this season when Big Ten powerhouses Penn State and Ohio State come into town Friday and Saturday.“We’re up to the task,” Waite said, “I think our defense is solidifying, and they’re excited about playing. We’re not afraid about playing these teams coming up.”According to Waite, the key to playing a Penn State team standing between 6-foot-3 and 6-foot-6 will be ball handling, speed and attacking the block. Waite also said he will put more defensive focus on the left side this week in practice to prepare for Penn State’s strong left side attackers.The Nittany Lions will be looking to beat the Badgers at home, something they were unable to do last year.“A year ago, they were a very young team – just like we were,” Waite said. “Just like we’ve matured, they’ve matured … for us we have to play real consistent ball, real aggressive, real confident and go after them just like we did here last year.”As Wisconsin looks ahead to the rest of the Big Ten season, its head coach anticipates tough competition and exciting play.“It’s just going to get better and better, more exciting for our fans,” Waite said. “Players have to step up so that’s going to make you better too … you don’t really find out about [where you stand] until you’re against the Big Ten teams because they’re all just bigger, faster and stronger in every way.”The Badgers will take on Penn State this Friday night at 7 p.m. and will be honoring former head coach Steve Lowe with the 22nd annual Steve Lowe Night. Lowe coached UW’s volleyball squad from 1986-90 and led the program to its first-ever Big Ten championship in 1990 before dying of lung cancer in 1991 at age 35.They will be playing the No. 22 Ohio State Buckeyes Saturday at 7 p.m. Both games will take place at the UW Field House.
MORE: What to know about MLB’s reported 2020 planYou know the rest of the story: Joyce emotionally admitted he blew the call, Galarraga handled the whole thing with class and, despite pleas for then-commissioner Bud Selig to overturn the call, baseball ultimately decided to let it go because “the human element” has always been integral to baseball.But now Galarraga wants that changed, and Joyce concurs. So let’s do it.With a decade of hindsight, and with replay review now a common thing in baseball, it would be proper for MLB to correct the mistake and officially award Galarraga his perfect game. Had the game been played at any point since 2014, when MLB instituted expanded replay review, this wouldn’t even be up for debate. The call would’ve been corrected on the field at the time and Galarraga would’ve celebrated with his teammates. There’s little reason for this correction to be an issue even now.The usual argument is that it sets a bad precedent, opening baseball history to all sorts of revisions and changes to reverse other bad calls. But this just isn’t the case, especially given the circumstances of the play. We know with absolute certainty that the outcome of the game would not have changed. The blown call happened on what would’ve been the final play. There are no unknowns after that, no what-ifs and no what-abouts. A correct call means the game is over and Galarraga owns the 24th perfect game in baseball history. End of story.This is not Game 6 of the 1985 World Series, when umpire Don Denkinger’s ninth-inning blown call at first base led to a Royals rally and, perhaps, cost the Cardinals a championship. In that case, the blown call occurred with the first batter of the inning. There’s no way of knowing how the rest of the inning would’ve unfolded had the correct call been made. Maybe the Cardinals, who led the series 3-2 at the time, hang on to win the game 1-0. Maybe the Royals find a different way to rally. We’ll never know.We know with Galarraga.FAGAN: MLB owners, players can’t afford to screw this up Some will say that one reason they like sports is because they’re not perfect and sometimes unfair, that heartbreak can be a weird kind of beautiful in the human experience. Another counterpoint to my argument is that Galarraga’s imperfect game was its own kind of special. If not for the blown call, the theory goes, most people would have forgotten about it. In other words, the blown call gave Galarraga essentially the same notoriety as a pitcher who actually was credited with a perfect game, perhaps even more.But think of it this way: Making it to the highest level of a sport is hard enough. Succeeding there is another level of hard. Historic achievements on that stage are rare. That’s why there have only been 23 perfect games in MLB history. None of them belong to Armando Galarraga. But he definitely pitched one, just not in the official eyes of baseball.It’s time for MLB to fix this mistake. Galarraga earned a legitimate place in history. Baseball should let him have it. This isn’t hard. There is no can of worms and there is no slippery slope. Sometimes a solution is obvious, and this is one of those times: It’s time for MLB to rectify a decade-old error and give Armando Galarraga proper recognition for his perfect game in 2010.Of course, the official record shows that Galarraga did not pitch a perfect game that June 2 against the Indians. He retired 26 consecutive batters, then allowed a “hit“ to the Indians’ Jason Donald when umpire Jim Joyce blew a fairly obvious call at first base and ruled Donald safe. Replays clearly showed that he was out, but there was no replay review at that time. So the call stood and Galarraga retired the next batter to settle for a one-hit shutout.