Morales, Carlini lead way in InnTowner
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[Jen Small/ The Badger Herald] Junior Deme Morales had a big weekend, recording a team high 17 kills and 13 digs in UW’s Friday matchup with Kansas.The Wisconsin volleyball team came in as not only host to, but as a favorite to win the InnTowner Invitational. The Badgers started play Friday against Kansas with a perfect 6-0 record and a new No. 25 ranking. Although they finished second with a 2-1 record for the tournament, UW had to fight through injuries to get to that point. After losing senior Annemarie Hickey earlier in the week, and juniors Courtney Thomas and Dominique Thompson playing through injuries, the Badgers needed someone to step up.That someone was junior Deme Morales.Filling in as outside hitter for the injured Hickey, Morales began her explosive weekend Friday, recording a team high 17 kills and 13 digs. She set career highs in both of those categories as well total attacks, 47, and blocks, four. Head coach Kelly Sheffield was happy with the way Morales stepped up on such short notice.“We had to change our lineup about 48 hours ago,” Sheffield said after losing Hickey for the weekend. “I thought Deme Morales was really, really good tonight. She’s a warrior, has a heart of a lion.”“It felt awesome,” Morales said on having such a big Friday night. “I know I need to get that going sooner if we want our team to excel.”And excel is what Morales and the rest of the Badgers did Saturday. Bouncing back from the loss to Kansas, UW had a four set win over Milwaukee and a three set win against Bowling Green to close out the tournament with a record of 2-1.Saturday, Morales continued her strong performance with 12 kills and 13 digs against Milwaukee, before closing out the tournament with another eight kills and eight digs against Bowling Green. Her three game performance earned her all-tournament honors alongside teammate, junior setter Ellen Chapman.After such a promising weekend from Morales, she will be looking to build on her performance as the team heads into its final nonconference tournament this weekend and Big Ten play. Effort and being a team player will help her do that.“Selling out every game,” Morales said about how she’ll continue her success for the rest of the season. “Trying to help out my teammates and be as much of a team player as I can be every single game.”Carlini makes home debutThe InnTowner Invitational was also the first chance for Badger fans in Madison to see 2012 Gatorade National Player of the Year Lauren Carlini. The freshman setter led the Badgers with 44 assists per game and managed to add on 14 digs per game. Despite playing in earlier games this season, Carlini was anxious to play her first game at the Field House.“I usually don’t get butterflies before I play, but today I definitely had some butterflies…not in a nervous way, just anxious,” Carlini said. “The crowd especially was amazing, and the atmosphere felt awesome.”Carlini’s presence was especially felt in the second game against Milwaukee as she turned in a 50-kill, 20-dig performance. Sheffield was happy with how Carlini played but knows she has some things to work on as well.“I thought she had her moments where she was really good, and then there were other moments where she looks like it was her third college match,” Sheffield said. “She’s awfully, awfully talented. She and I will watch some film, and there will be some things that she wished she hadn’t done, but that’s part of the growing process.”After the tournament was over, Sheffield raved about Carlini’s work ethic.“[Carlini] is a perfectionist, she wants to be great,” Sheffield said. “She studies the game. We had two matches today and she’s up there watching film of not just opponents, but studying herself. She was in video; probably watched two or three hours of video today on top of the two matches. She’s trying to be really good.”If the InnTowner Tournament is any indication, Carlini could become a crucial cog in the team as they look to begin a challenging Big Ten schedule in the coming weeks.