Apologies to the four of you who missed this feature last week. I know non-Nebraskans assume that all Nebraskans drive tractors around all day and stuff, and that was in fact what I was busy doing last week, so enjoy having that perception confirmed.
Anyway, volleyball! Penn State is still really good, Nebraska is still hanging tough, and MSU is still showing they’re no fluke this season. Illinois remains unranked, but having now seen them play, this severely understates their quality, IMO.
(All ranking numbers in completed matches are from last week’s AVCA poll, current at the time the matches were played, published October 23, 2017)
- FIVE of the top ten teams in the country are still from the Big Ten. There hasn’t been a lot of movement at the top of the polls for some weeks now (it feels like Nebraska has been stuck at #7 all season), because no one is losing. Or, in the Big Ten’s case, they’re only losing to one of these other top ten teams, so they’re not getting penalized too much for it (hi MSU). The top seven teams are unchanged from last week—the fluidity of earlier this season has apparently come to a grinding halt.
- RUTGERS WON ANOTHER SET! In fact, they won two more! The two worst teams in the conference (Rutgers and Indiana) battled in a five set match in Week 9, in which Indiana prevailed. This was Rutgers’ first conference five-set match since 2015. Rutgers is still very, very bad at volleyball—but they’ve at least taken the tiniest of baby steps this season. Unfortunately for them (and Indiana, for that matter), these two teams don’t meet again this season, which seems like some mean scheduling.
- Speaking of not-great-but-improving teams, it’s time to give Maryland a shoutout. After residing at the rock bottom of the conference for the duration of their time in the Big Ten, the Terps have finally started to make some headway, and currently hold a 5-7 conference record (tied with Michigan and OSU). They’ve started to beat the other bad teams, which is how you have to build a program, but on Sunday, they scored a pretty major coup—they knocked off then-#17 Purdue in a five-set match. This was their sixteenth win of the season, a total that has not been met since 2010. Congratulations to the Terrapins! May they enjoy it, as they now start a four-game road stretch that includes Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and PSU. Yeesh.
Wednesday, October 18
#9 Wisconsin 3 - Maryland 0
#10 MSU 3 - Michigan 1
#5 Minnesota 3 - OSU 0
Friday, October 20
Indiana 3 - Rutgers 2: Good job, Rutgers!
#1 PSU 3 - #17 Purdue 1
Illinois 3 - Iowa 2
#7 Real NU 3 - jNW 0
Saturday, October 21
#1 PSU 3 - Indiana 0
#10 MSU 3 - Maryland 0
#17 Purdue 3 - Rutgers 0
Iowa 3 - Northwestern 0
#7 Nebraska 3 - Illinois 1: I went to this game and was impressed with Illinois’ defensive ability. I’m not sure if they’ve been playing like that all season or not, but the Huskers were having a tough time getting things to fall against them.
#5 Minnesota 3 - #9 Wisconsin 1: This was another big game, but it seems like for the most part, Wisconsin is juuuuust on the wrong side of most of these this season.
Sunday, October 22
Michigan 3 - OSU 1
Wednesday, October 25
#1 PSU 3 - #9 Wisconsin 1: See above, re: Wisconsin.
Northwestern 3 - Rutgers 0
#5 Minnesota 3 - Illinois 2: Again, even though they’re unranked, Illinois can put up a fight against the best. They came heartbreakingly close to grabbing what would have been a huge win.
Friday, October 27
Michigan 3 - Iowa 0
Maryland 3 - Indiana 1
#17 Purdue 3 - OSU 0
#7 Nebraska 3 - #10 MSU 1: MSU on their home court is one of the toughest games in the Big Ten. Not only is MSU very good, but the venue boasts some peculiarities that are tough for visiting teams to adjust to quickly. The Huskers locked down on D to claim this one though: reportedly, MSU’s Autumn Bailey was overheard in the Spartan huddle frustratedly exclaiming “They’re digging everything!” Nice job, back row!
Saturday, October 28
#10 MSU 3 - Iowa 1
#1 PSU 3 - Illinois 0
OSU 3 - Indiana 0
#5 Minnesota 3 - Rutgers 0
#9 Wisconsin 3 - Northwestern 0
Sunday, October 29
Maryland 3 - #17 Purdue 2: As noted in Quick Hits, this was a pretty major upset for Maryland.
#7 Nebraska 3 - Michigan 0
One benefit of the Big Ten is that there are usually great matches every weekend because of the depth of great teams. But this week? Not so much. Penn State at MSU in mid-week action is the best bet for a good match, and Purdue at Nebraska on Friday has potential, unless Maryland decides to make things realllllly exciting in its trip to the upper Midwest. (If I’m allowed to pick, Terps, please take out Minny, kthx.)
Wednesday, November 1
Rutgers at Michigan - 7 pm (ET)
#1 Penn State at #9 MSU - 7 pm (TELEVISED ON BTN!): If you want to watch volleyball this week, this is my recommendation. MSU has been playing well all year, but beating #1 PSU would signify a huge step forward.
Northwestern at Illinois - 9 pm (TELEVISED ON BTN!)
Friday, November 3
Indiana at Iowa - 8 pm
Maryland at #5 Minnesota - 8 pm: Just how much Turtle Power do the Terps have? It’s going to need to be a lot.
Purdue at #7 Nebraska - 8 pm: This could be a sneaky good match, with Purdue trying to get back on track after a disappointing loss to Maryland. Beating Nebraska would certainly help with that.
Ohio State at #8 Wisconsin - 8 pm
Saturday, November 4
Michigan at Illinois - 7 pm
Rutgers at #1 Penn State - 7 pm: Rutgers football plays at Penn State the week after this. I have a feeling that both of these games will go roughly the same way.
OSU at #5 Minnesota - 8 pm
Indiana at #7 Nebraska - 8 pm
#9 MSU at Northwestern - 8 pm
Maryland at #8 Wisconsin - 8 pm
Co-Player of the Week: Mikaela Foecke of Nebraska (aka, the best thing to come out of Iowa, ever) averaged 3.9 kills, 2.0 digs and 1.1 blocks per set during the Huskers’ tour of the Mitten State. She hit .394 at #10 MSU, and earned her first POTW award.
Co-Player of the Week: Haleigh Washington of PSU, who averaged 3.4 kills and 2.1 blocks per set with a .548 (!!!!) hitting percentage over the weekend, which included a match at then-#9 Wisconsin.
Defensive Player of the Week: Kendall White of Penn State posted a match-best 21 digs and two assists in the Nittany Lions’ four-set victory over Wisconsin, and also was error-free in reception attempts in the match against Illinois, which is pretty dang tough to do.
Setter of the Week: Samantha Seliger-Swenson of Minnesota. Again. Earning this honor for the fifth time this season, S-cubed averaged 11.3 assists/set on the weekend, and earned a double-double (58 assists and 14 digs) in a five-set match against Illinois.
Freshmen of the Week: It’s Dana Rettke of Wisconsin again, for the seventh time this season (impressive, in Week 10). She averaged 4.0 kills and 1.3 blocks per set with a .407 hitting percentage on the week’s action.
And here’s who I missed when I didn’t write last week:
POTW: Dana Rettke, Wisconsin
DPOTW: Dalianliz Rosado, Minnesota
SOTW: Rachel Minarick, Michigan State
FOTW: Dana Rettke, Wisconsin
#1 Penn State (PW: 1)
#5 Minnesota (PW: 5)
#7 Nebraska (PW: 7)
#8 Wisconsin (PW: 9)
#9 Michigan State (PW: 10)
#22 Purdue (PW: 17)
RV: Illinois (20)