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first_imgWisconsin’s border-battle rivalry continues with Minnesota Wednesday as the Badger volleyball team takes on the Golden Gophers. While the two don’t play for a trophy of any kind, there still is a lot on the line — most importantly second place in the Big Ten. “[The rivalry is] equally as big,” senior middle blocker and assistant captain Amy Bladow said. “I wish we did have an axe because everything between Wisconsin and Minnesota is a big rivalry. No matter what it is we are always going at them hard.” Even though second place should be enough motivation to go out and play well, Bladow said there is always extra motivation for the Badgers when they play the Gophers.”Every weekend we go out and want to obviously play well and beat whoever we play in the Big Ten,” Bladow said. “When you go out and see the Gophers on the other side there definitely is that little extra edge for bragging rights and border games and everything. “We have girls from Minnesota and they have girls from Wisconsin, so no matter what someone is going to be talking.”Wisconsin will be looking for the return of senior floor captain Maria Carlini, who has been out the last three games with a foot injury. Carlini practiced Tuesday and head coach Pete Waite said they were testing her.”We are going to see how she feels tonight and then tomorrow,” Waite said. “It’s always the day after is what you got to look for. Obviously it’s has been about ten days, so we got to see how she feels and how we feel about her being in there. It was a good sign. It was a start and she is real excited to be out there.”Despite the possibility of Carlini coming back tonight, Waite said freshman outside hitter Caity DuPont — who played in Carlini’s spot over the weekend — should still see some playing time. “[DuPont] sure has proven she can do it,” Waite said. “That is something we are going to have to talk about as a staff tomorrow, see who we are going to start and who is going to come off the bench. “During the course of a match, it’s great to have three people that you are confident in on the left side that can take swings for you. “After starting out the year slow with a 6-4 start, Minnesota has picked its play in the Big Ten, going 7-1, the only loss coming at Penn State. The strong play of late has moved Minnesota up No. 17 in the AVCA rankings, after being unranked to start the year.”This is a team that right now in the rankings is below us but we’re going into their gym,” Waite said. “You got to feel like we are the underdogs going in. We’ve got to battle to get that win.”For Wisconsin to beat its border rivals, Bladow said a fast start is essential.”They always have a really great crowd and their student section is really great,” Bladow said. “I think that if we go out and get started right away with high energy, play really good defense, and serve really tough then hopefully we come out with a victory.”If the Badgers are able to get out to a fast start like they did against Purdue and Indiana, Bladow also said it would be hard for Wisconsin to lose.”The Big Ten is a crazy place and we have seen some amazing upsets already this year,” Bladow said. “Every team comes out in the Big Ten and every night is going to be completely different. “Hopefully we can maintain that really great play from Indiana and Purdue for the rest of the Big Ten season. In that case we will come out being undefeated at home and with a really good ranking going into the NCAA tournament.”last_img read more