Pain of falling short will stay with Wisconsin and the Grateful Red.
This is about heartbreak.
You’ve read this before.
So you don’t need a bunch of quotes, eloquent details and vivid images to imagine the scene. You’ve been there. Been here.
There were tears and sobs and more tears and sobs in the Wisconsin Badgers’ locker room after Kelly Sheffield’s team lost to the Texas Longhorns, 3-0, in the second Final Four game on Thursday night at Chi Health Center Arena. Texas is looking to win their second National Title in the last nine years; Wisconsin left the Final Four without a national title for the second consecutive season.
So this is about disappointment, the only emotion that makes sense for a program that planned to — not just hoped to — win a national title for the first time in program history and instead left Omaha in third place. On this stage, on this level, third place medals don’t matter.
The Badgers had ripped through Weber State, Brigham Young and Florida on their way to the Final Four and keep the perfect season alive.
In the movies, Wisconsin wins the national championship.
Well, the Texas set fire to that script and helped the Longhorns sweep UW, 26-24, 25-19 and 25-23.
Wisconsin had become America’s program. The team the entire country could root for. The “You gotta love those guys, don’t you?” in college volleyball.
Lost in the craze, however, was its focus. Its win-or-nothing mindset.
The Badgers wanted a national title. Not another Final Four. Not a pat on the back for reaching the Final Four as the only undefeated team.
Wisconsin wanted to be a champion. The champion.
But that locker room, the one that crumbled in the minutes that followed Thursday’s loss, was the setting for a burial.
The Badgers’ dream died on Thursday night.
So this is about devastation, which Wisconsin will feel for a long, long time.