BRYAN FAUST/Herald photoWisconsin volleyball’s best team member, arguably, is hidden deep on the bench.Not as a backup player, a redshirt freshman or even on the disabled list.Nope, the most skilled UW volleyballer is assistant coach Rod Wilde. The short, red-headed legend may not at first glance draw a great deal of awe from the Field House faithful as an accomplished volleyball player, but he brings with him a strong résumé.”In my opinion — I studied him when I was a player — the guy was the greatest setter, I think, in the United States, the guy’s amazing,” said Washington head coach Jim McLaughlin. “He located the ball better than any setter I’ve ever seen, but he’s also just an unbelievable guy. I spent a lot of time with him and learned so much from him. I always tried to be like him, but I couldn’t be like him — he was too good.”Wilde was born in the state of Indiana — Hoosier country, where the sport of basketball reigns supreme.But Wilde opted to play a sport with a different ball and net when his family moved across the Midwest to Fort Dodge, Iowa. There, he started to hone his volleyball skills as a setter and was heavily recruited by a number of colleges.Wilde decided to attend Pepperdine University, where he made his mark as one of the best male volleyball setters in the country. He earned three All-American honors and led the Waves to the Final Four each of those years, winning a national championship his junior year, 1978, under head coach Marv Dunphy.It was Dunphy who Wilde took the reigns from as head coach at Pepperdine just six years later, but only on an interim basis as Dunphy had Olympic coaching duties from 1984 to 1988.Nonetheless, Wilde made the most of his opportunity and won a national championship in 1986, becoming one of the few to win a title as both a player and a coach — at the same school, even.”It was pretty exciting to have that opportunity to go back and coach a team to the national championship after having won it as a player,” Wilde said. “It’s more emotional as a player, just the high of winning it, but it’s more satisfying as a coach because you realize all the things that went into making it happen.”This was one opportunity Wilde cashed in on, as two years earlier he had missed out on playing at the 1984 Olympics.Six weeks before the Olympic Games, the United States had a match versus Russia where a player came under the net and accidentally bumped into Wilde, breaking his leg.Wilde remembers it like yesterday, but not just because of the freak accident.”We played a match and beat Russia for the first time on Russian soil in the history of the program, and we were all excited about it,” Wilde recalled. “When we walked off the court, the Russian coach walked up and shook the hand of our coach and said, ‘Congratulations, we just heard that the boycott of the Los Angeles Olympics has been declared by Russia.’ So here we were at the highest of highs, so excited about beating Russia because they were the world power at the time. The match was just deteriorated and really was a non-factor after that.”While the significance of defeating Russia may have dwindled, the worst part about it was Wilde’s injury caused him to miss out on playing on a gold-medal team, especially considering he hadn’t been able to play in the 1980 Olympics, either, with the U.S. boycott.”It was disappointing more than anything because I put seven years of my life into being able to do it,” Wilde said. “And then to miss it the way I did was so disappointing.”Controversy would come again for Wilde in the next Olympics he participated in, this time as an assistant — the 1996 Atlanta Games, with the infamous bombing that took place.Wilde served as an assistant once again in the 2000 Olympics, which he cites as the best Games he’s ever been a part of.”They’re all different,” Wilde said of his Olympic experience. “But Sydney stands out because it was just the most fantastic Olympics anybody will ever hold. The people were just amazing and it was a very comradely oriented Olympics.”Aside from the numerous national teams, Wilde has been extremely active on the volleyball circuit. Following his collegiate career, Wilde played for the Tucson Sky of the Pro International Volleyball League until it disbanded in 1983.The league was fairly popular, at least in big volleyball cities such as Tucson, Ariz. and Santa Barbara, Calif. It was also a rather peculiar league as men played front row and women played back with either gender as setter.The competition in the Pro International Volleyball League was strong, but one player Wilde played just a single time stood out for Wilde — former basketball player Wilt Chamberlain, a 7-foot behemoth of a man — an oak masquerading as a man, really — who holds nearly 100 NBA records to this day.Chamberlain played sand volleyball to help with his knee rehab and continued to play after he retired from basketball. While he was one of the most dominant basketball players of his time, it didn’t necessarily translate over to the volleyball court.”He’s a big man to start with,” Wilde said of Chamberlain. “He wasn’t a real skilled all-around player, but in that league he didn’t have to pass or anything — he hit and blocked, and he was pretty effective at that.”The league’s disbanding illustrated how volleyball isn’t as popular in the states as it is in some other countries, typically second best to soccer around the world. Wilde contemplated the thought of playing overseas, but decided to stick with coaching to help propel the American game.Fast forward to 2001, when Wilde caught on as assistant coach under Pete Waite at Wisconsin — initially, he took the position to pass time while looking for a head coaching job, but that is no longer the case today.”I was working a lot on the men’s side and I was looking at some of the women’s programs, but wasn’t getting a whole lot interest from athletic directors because they saw all the men’s background that I had,” Wilde said of his decision to come to UW. “So I thought I’d go put two, three years in with a good women’s program and then look at head coaching somewhere, but I’ve liked it so much here and haven’t had the real desire to go elsewhere.”There have been a few positions available, but nothing that has been a good fit and nothing I’d want to do more than being here at Wisconsin,” he continued. “It’s just really fun to be in this environment and it’s hard to match the crowds, fan base and support that we have.”After all, Wilde’s roots are in the Midwest and his wife is a Milwaukee native. However, he still ventures out to California, his second home where he played at Pepperdine and trained for national teams.Last weekend was a homecoming of sorts for Wilde as the Badgers traveled to the San Diego Invitational, but it was last month’s AVCA Volleyball Showcase right in the Field House that was a real pleasure for him.With Washington and Texas in town, it provided Wilde with a Pepperdine reunion. During Wilde’s head coaching tenure at Pepperdine, McLaughlin served as an assistant — as well as the best man at his wedding — and Texas head coach Jerritt Elliott played for the two.During the AVCA, the two former protégés had nothing but praise for their former boss and continually heralded him as one of the best setters of all time.”He gave me an opportunity when I was young to assist him, and I’ll never forget that,” McLaughlin said.Although it was McLaughlin and Elliott following in the footsteps of Wilde decades ago, now it may be Wilde following in the path of his former pupils.”Those guys have gone on to do some great things with the sport,” Wilde said. “They went the women’s direction early on and had opportunities to get into a top program, so maybe somewhere down the road I’ll do the same thing.”
The Nationals trailed from the first inning until the eighth, but Soto’s single off left-hander Josh Hader put the home team ahead, and Washington advanced to face the Dodgers in the NLDS by winning its first elimination game since relocating from Montreal.MORE: Watch select MLB playoff games live with fuboTV (7-day free trial)Milwaukee held a 2-0 lead after two batters. Nationals ace Max Scherzer walked Grisham to start the game and surrendered a two-run home run to catcher Yasmani Grandal on the next pitch.Brewers first baseman Eric Thames hit a solo shot in the second to take a 3-0 lead and continue Scherzer’s postseason struggles. The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner would settle down to work through five innings, but his shakiness remains a concern going forward.Crucially, right-hander Stephen Strasburg was nails in the first relief appearance of his career, striking out four in three scoreless innings.That allowed the Nationals to remain within striking distance. Shortstop Trea Turner launched a solo homer in the third — the only run of the night off Brewers starter Brandon Woodruff, who threw four innings — but Washington’s lineup was quiet otherwise. Hader entered in the eighth, protecting the 3-1 lead and looking to secure a six-out save.The unraveling began with one out, when he hit pinch-hitter Michael A. Taylor on the hand. The play was reviewed to see if the pitch had actually hit the knob of the bat first, but the call on the field stood. Hader followed that by striking Turner out, but pinch-hitter Ryan Zimmerman blooped a broken-bat single into center field, and third baseman Anthony Rendon worked a full-count walk to load the bases.Soto then lined a 1-1 pitch into right field, and Grisham overran it, allowing the ball to squirt past him. He retrieved it and caught Soto between second and third, but all three runs had already scored, and all the momentum had shifted.Hudson allowed a one-out single in the ninth but nothing else, setting off the Nationals’ first playoff celebration since moving to D.C.Brewers vs. Nationals: Live score, updates, highlights from NL wild-card gameFinal: Nationals 4, Brewers 311:08 p.m.: Nationals win. Daniel Hudson allows a one-out single in the ninth but nothing more, and Washington advances to face the Dodgers in the NLDS. What a turn of events.10:56 p.m.: Soto gives the Nats the lead! A single to right that would’ve merely tied the game gets past Grisham, allowing the go-ahead run to score. Soto is caught between second and third to end the inning, and we head to the ninth with Washington suddenly leading 4-3.10:55 p.m.: The Nationals load the bases with two outs. Soto is at the plate. Hader is laboring, past 28 pitches, and the bullpen is active.10:35 p.m.: Brewers closer Josh Hader enters in the eighth, looking to protect a 3-1 lead.10:13 p.m.: Drew Pomeranz closes the sixth with back-to-back strikeouts, and Strasburg does the same to take us to the seventh-inning stretch.9:57 p.m.: A double play helps Stephen Strasburg keep Washington’s deficit at 3-1 in his first inning of relief.9:50 p.m.: Dozier reaches on a throwing error by third baseman Mike Moustakas, but Turner flies out ot left to send us to the sixth inning.9:43 p.m.: Victor Robles singles off Brewers reliever Brent Suter, which brings Scherzer’s spot in the lineup to the plate. Brian Dozier will pinch-hit, ending Scherzer’s start.9:35 p.m.: Scherzer puts a couple of runners on via walks but escapes any damage in the fifth. The bullpen began to warm up, though, so it’s not cleear how much longer he’ll be out there.9:20 p.m.: Woodruff closes his night with a 1-2-3 fourth inning. He’ll be pinch-hit for in the fifth.In 2019, @B_Woody24 averaged 96.2 mph on his fastball.Tonight, all 38 of his fastballs were 96.9 mph or faster. 😱 pic.twitter.com/zEOYHNL5ih— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) October 2, 20199:00 p.m.: HOME RUN, Nationals. Trea Turner launches a solo homer with two outs in the third. B3: Brewers 3, Nationals 1.. @treavturner gives the Nats a spark. pic.twitter.com/9yJnRzt3lI— MLB (@MLB) October 2, 20198:52 p.m.: Scherzer retires the Brewers in order in the third, though Grandal just missed his second homer of the game.8:45 p.m.: Kurt Suzuki puts a charge into one, but it’s caught at the wall to end the second inning. Left fielder Ryan Braun runs off gingerly after making the play, unclear what happened.8:39 p.m.: Howie Kendrick is the Nationals’ first baserunner, singling through the left side with one out in the second.8:28 p.m.: HOME RUN, Brewers. Eric Thames leads off the second with a solo shot. Scherzer is struggling early. T2: Brewers 3, Nationals 0.2 homers in 2 innings?That’ll quiet the home crowd. pic.twitter.com/vWAbwG2Op4— MLB (@MLB) October 2, 20198:24 p.m.: Brandon Woodruff works a 1-2-3 first inning.8:16 p.m.: Scherzer settles down to retire the next three batters. Some damage done, though. 8:11 p.m.: HOME RUN, Brewers. Scherzer walks the leadoff man on two close pitches, and Milwaukee catcher Yasmani Grandal pulls the first pitch he sees for a two-run shot. T1: Brewers 2, Nationals 0.Get up! Get outta here! Gone! pic.twitter.com/aK3MAKDkLv— MLB (@MLB) October 2, 20198:09 p.m.: Max Scherzer’s first pitch is a fastball that misses way outside, and we’re underway.8:02 p.m.: Here are your starting lineups:LET’S. GET. W👁LD. #Scherzday // #STAYINTHEFIGHT pic.twitter.com/xrRYWYHcvF— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) October 1, 2019The #Brewers Wild Card lineup is here. #MKEHistory | #ThisIsMyCrew pic.twitter.com/UolgrkcQ9b— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) October 1, 2019 Nationals outfielder Juan Soto started celebrating even before was tagged out between second and third to end the eighth inning. He knew he had supplied a potential knockout blow in an eventual 4-3 NL wild-card win over the Brewers on Tuesday. He couldn’t contain his enthusiasm.Soto’s would-be game-tying single turned into a go-ahead hit when Brewers right fielder Trent Grisham let the ball roll past him. A shutdown ninth inning from Washington right-hander Daniel Hudson ensured Soto’s heroics didn’t go to waste.
If Fuller is active and appears likely to get his usual workload, he slides right back in to a boom-or-bust fantasy WR3 role. If Fuller is out, Stills remains viable as a boom-or-bust FLEX role for fantasy owners. Indianapolis is in the middle of the pack when it comes to fantasy points allowed to wide receivers.WEEK 12 PPR RANKINGS: Running back | Wide receiver | Tight endIf you had been relying on playing Fuller this week and it turns out he’s out, you could pivot to Stills. If you’d prefer someone else, you may be able to pick up Cole Beasley, Demaryius Thomas, Taylor Gabriel, James Washington or Hunter Renfrow. Either way, both Fuller and Stills are risky plays in all formats. Will Fuller V has a chance to make his return for the Texans on Thursday Night Football against the Colts. Fuller has been out since Week 7 due to a hamstring injury, and he’s officially llisted as questionable on Wednesday’s injury report. Fuller’s return would provide a small boost to Deshaun Watson coming off a rough loss while also knocking Kenny Stills most of the way out of fantasy football relevance. The official active/inactive report will come out at about 6:50 p.m. ET. We’ll have updates here and on Twitter @SN_Fantasy through that time. To get the latest on T.Y. Hilton’s injury, click here; for the latest news on Eric Ebron, go here. MORE TNF: DraftKings Showdown lineupIs Will Fuller V playing Thursday night?UPDATE 2: Fuller is officially ACTVE.UPDATE 1: Fuller is expected to play tonight, according to NFL Network’s James Palmer.Bill O’Brien said Tuesday that Fuller remains a game-time decision for Thursday night and that there’s a “chance” he suits up. Fuller hasn’t played since Week 7 due to a hamstring injury. He was listed as “Limited” on in all three practice reports this week.WEEK 12 NON-PPR RANKINGS:Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | KickerWith Fuller out, Kenny Stills has stepped into the No. 2 WR role in Houston’s offense, one that provides him with five-plus targets a game and the potential for a big play here and there. Fuller’s return (assuming he could play a full allotment of snaps) would spell the end of that role for Stills, knocking him down a notch on the depth chart.