Kirby Toon (1) and Alexis Mitchell (4) had nice games offensively for the Badgers, but the Iowa defense was too tough for UW.[/media-credit]In its first conference game of the season, the Wisconsin volleyball team fell to the Iowa Hawkeyes in four sets at the Field House Wednesday night.After dropping the first set 25-21, the Badgers (5-5, 0-1 Big Ten) came back in the second to beat the Hawkeyes 25-19 in the second set. Battling to a tough 26-22 loss in the third set, the Badgers were unable to keep up with Iowa in the final set, falling 25-18.“I thought we started a little slow the first game and we just really weren’t on track at all,” UW head coach Pete Waite said. “But by the second set things picked up, and I thought we were playing some really nice volleyball.”With senior captain and outside hitter Brittney Dolgner sidelined for most of the game because she was recovering from the flu, Waite made several substitutions throughout the match. In particular, Allison Wack had to fill in for Dolgner, which proved to be a simple task for the junior.“You never know coming in to a match who’s going to be ill,” Wack said. “This week it was just kind of a surprise and everyone always has to be ready, and that’s something that our bench is getting better at. Just being able to come in and fill in whenever.”Waite allowed most his team to play, using several different lineups to try to create a more effective unit. Despite the game’s result, he was pleased with the bench players’ efforts.“We subbed a lot of different people in,” Waite said. “A lot of people had a chance to contribute to the game, so I thought they did a good job.”While Dolgner has proved to be one of the Badgers’ top players, Waite noted her recovery was keeping her from helping the team when it needed her. That, along with the other players’ success, was enough for the head coach to keep his captain on the bench.“She wasn’t quite herself out there, didn’t have the same elevation on the jump,” Waite said. “You know, the shots weren’t there. She was tentative and you know, you take days off like that and your body is feeling the way it does after it happens, we knew that was a possibility.”When Waite brought in Alexis Mitchell in the third set, she made a huge impact, notching four kills in the set. While she hadn’t received as much playing time as other players on the team in recent matches, her play certainly kept the Badgers in contention for much of the game. “I’ve had a lot of reps in practice,” she said. “Just swinging hard and being aggressive and I think when I came in I had that mindset of just hitting right off the block and getting us some points and it worked out pretty well.”Bringing in Wack and Mitchell paid huge dividends for the Badgers. Wack had a game-high 17 kills while Mitchell contributed seven kills on only 15 attempts while Dolgner watched from the sidelines.“Al Wack had big numbers. I thought she looked really comfortable out there tonight both in servicing and attacking the ball, so I thought that was really good,” Waite said.Despite the strong games from Wack and Mitchell and 13 kills from freshman Kirby Toon, the Iowa defense was simply too much for the Badgers to handle. Coming into the game with the best statistical defense in the Big Ten with 17.36 digs per set, the Hawkeyes exhibited their superior blocking ability, negating Wisconsin’s 59 kills with 15 total blocks.Nevertheless, while Iowa proved to be a formidable opponent on the defensive side, Waite noted the Badgers would have had a better chance of winning if they cut down on simple mistakes. Even though libero Kim Kuzma had a strong defensive game with a game-high 18 digs, it wasn’t enough to overcome the Badgers’ miscues.“Kim Kuzma was passing really, really well, so it allowed us to run the offense,” Waite said. “But I just think we made too many unforced errors. We didn’t ball-handle well at the important times and that’s just critical. It changes momentum and we gave them too many points.”On Friday, the Badgers travel to Minnesota to take on the Gophers in their next Big Ten matchup. Last year, the Gophers swept Wisconsin, beating the Badgers 3-1 in Minneapolis and 3-2 at the Field House.