Week two featured almost exclusively chalky results, though some teams took a more scenic route getting there. The six ranked B1G schools combined to go 13-2, with Minnesota supplying both losses, each (vs. #1 Texas, @ #5 Florida) the result of an admirable, though unfulfilling so far, willingness to take on all comers. UW, Nebraska, and Minnesota will get writeups below, so let’s look elsewhere for top takeaways from the week.
- Penn State notched three home wins. None were over ranked opposition, but the Nittany Lions have won 15 straight sets since the season-opening loss to Georgia Tech. PSU was led by the usually suspects: Kaitlyn Hord (.538, .400, .316 hitting and 22 digs total), Jonni Parker (.333, .400, .333 hitting), and Erika Pritchard (30 kills, 17 digs, and great all-around). Pritchard, a grad transfer from Maryland, where she was 1st-team all-B1G last year, seems to be fitting in nicely, and PSU is building momentum.
- Only a six-bid league? Having six teams ranked is certainly impressive, but the argument that there is tournament-caliber depth beyond the top half dozen took a hit this weekend. Illinois, who was receiving votes last week, fell to #11 Washington (no shame there) and then dropped a five-setter to Colorado (less good). Michigan, who had been ranked at #23, fell to West Virginia (and out of the rankings) in straight sets. And Northwestern had a rough 0-3 trip out West. Maryland (6-0), Indiana (5-1), and Rutgers (5-1) all boast fine records, but no impact victories. Plenty of time remains, and plenty of opportunities for good wins will be present in conference play, but the gap between the top six and the rest may be even wider than initially expected.
[Note: Current ranking listed first, last week’s ranking in parentheses]
#2 (#2) Wisconsin
- W-Dayton (25-13, 25-19, 25-23)
- W-Dayton (25-16, 25-14, 25-20)
Kind of...: Dayton made the tournament last year and took Washington—who made the Final Four—to five sets, so this was not some mid-major pushover. That said, UW was expected to take care of business and did. It wasn’t an A+ effort each set, but on the whole the Badgers didn’t do anything to call their #2 ranking into question. Wisconsin hit .389 on Friday (including .650 in a error-free first set), led by Devyn Robinson’s .563 (10-1-16) performance. UW followed that up hitting at a clip .344 Saturday. Setter Sydney Hilley recorded 70 assists on the weekend and chipped in a team high six blocks on Friday. A two-time First-team All-American, Hilley is off to another fast start this year.
#3 (#4) Nebraska:
- W-Omaha (16-25, 25-14, 16-25, 25-13, 15-7)
- W-Georgia (19-25, 25-21, 25-22, 25-16)
- W-Arizona State (25-20, 25-12, 25-22)
BRT: Getting taken to five sets by Omaha was not optimal, but I also don’t think it’s reason to panic yet. Setter Nicklin Hames is only just getting back to playing this weekend after an injury in the red-white scrimmage a few weeks ago, and Lauren Stivrins is still out recovering from back surgery. But I think the bigger reason that the Huskers struggled at times in this tournament is that John Cook seems to have taken advantage of the early season play and the surfeit of starters (a Covid side-effect that many coaches will have to deal with - how to balance unexpectedly returning stars with preparation for the future and the careers of underclassmen?) to go experimental with his lineups. The results of new combinations and new players is, as expected, a bit mixed.
I’m not worried because Cook has more than proven himself as a coach, and his teams tend to have an reliably consistent upward trajectory over the season - Nebraska teams are typically playing their best volleyball in the tournament, no matter how shaky they look in their first few outings. I have no reason to believe that this year will be any different.
That said, they did look shaky and downright mediocre at points in the weekend, and that could spell trouble for them when they meet Creighton on Wednesday night. The Bluejays, in contrast to the Huskers, have started the season firing on all cylinders. It’s on FS1, and could be a great match! Five sets would not surprise me, nor would a loss—though of course, I hope I’m wrong about that!
T-#4 (#6) Ohio State:
- W-Rhode Island (25-13, 25-11, 25-14)
- W-Texas State (25-17, 25-19, 23-25, 25-15)
- W-Texas Tech (25-14, 25-15, 25-13)
#6 (#8) Purdue:
- W-UNLV (25-19, 25-21, 25-23)
- W-NR (#25) Washington State (25-19, 25-23, 28-26)
#13 (#10) Minnesota:
- L-#1 (#1) Texas (24-26, 21-25, 25-21, 22-25)
- L-#10 (#5) Florida (20-25, 19-25, 25-22, 23-25)
WSR: I only saw the Texas match and while we’re still a really good team, we’re just nowhere near the level of the Longhorns. I kinda hate it.
And now I get to look forward to our annual trip to the west coast to lose a pair of matches? Awesome. Bring on the numbing comfort of the B1G already, please.
#18 (#17) Penn State:
- W-Iowa State (25-18, 25-11, 25-23)
- W-Oregon State (25-18, 32-30, 25-14)
- W-LSU (25-13, 25-21, 25-21)
NR (#23) Michigan:
- L-West Virginia (21-25, 19-25, 18-25)
- W-Navy (25-19, 26-28, 25-14, 25-15)
- L-#9 (#11) Washington (15-25, 21-25, 32-30, 21-25)
- L-Colorado (21-25, 18-25, 25-16, 25-22, 16-18)
L-New Mexico State (19-25, 25-19, 25-17, 26-28, 8-15); L-UTEP (28-30, 16-25, 19-25); L-Arizona (25-20, 25-27, 17-25, 25-15, 15-17)
MNW: There’s reaaaally not much lipstick to put on this. New Mexico State is, I believe, somewhat decent, but straight sets to UTEP and a loss to Arizona show that the ‘Cats are going to be Bad Loss territory and stay on the outside looking in most of the way.
Of super-fun note is that the ‘Cats lost at New Mexico State on Friday at 11am, then bused the 40 miles from Las Cruces to El Paso to lose to the Miners...then went back to El Paso to lose to Arizona in a neutral site game.
Next up is a trip to Laramie for matches with Mizzou, Wyoming, and UC Santa Barbara...where once again, it looks like the ‘Cats are the cannon fodder. The Shane Davis experiment—the national-title winning men’s coach at Loyola has failed to finish above 10th in the Big Ten in four years at Northwestern—is not going well.
- W-Dixie State (25-19, 25-17, 25-20)
- W-Weber State (25-20, 25-22, 25-20)
- L-#12 (#13) BYU (14-25, 21-25, 19-25)
- W-Cent. Conn. State (25-13, 25-15, 25-23)
- W-Lafayette (25-11, 23-25, 25-17, 25-23)
- W-UConn (25-23, 25-12, 25-17)
- L-Colorado (15-25, 22-25, 25-23, 15-25)
- L-#9 (#11) Washington (28-26, 16-25, 14-25, 14-25)
- L-Western Michigan (12-25, 25-20, 24-26, 25-11, 11-15)
- W-IPFW (25-16, 25-21, 25-17)
- W-SEMO (19-25, 25-23, 14-25, 25-17, 15-9)
BuffKomodo: Well the Hoosiers went on the road to the “Discover Kalamazoo” Classic in Kalamazoo. I had a whole joke prepped about Discover not being accepted everywhere and Visa and Mastercard, but apparently the sponsor was a Kalamazoo tourist site, not a credit card. It was going to be a whole thing.
Anyways...The Hoosiers discovered that playing the home team in the first game isn’t ideal, and dropped the first game of the year to Western Michigan. Indiana had opportunities but losing the 3rd and 5th set in tight fashion really was the nail in the coffin. They followed that up by doing what the basketball program can’t by beating Fort Wayne in straight sets. The Hoosiers then beat Southeast Missouri State in 5 sets.
Indiana as a university really seems to struggle out of the box right now, and that is different with Indiana volleyball. Bad 1st quarters. Bad 1st sets. Seems to run in the water right now. Hopefully they can get that straightened out next week.
Support the Indiana Daily Student where I got my rundown.
- W-LIU Brooklyn (25-18, 25-21, 25-21)
- W-Temple (25-6, 21-25, 26-28, 26-21, 17-15)
- W-Iona (25-13, 25-10, 25-15)
Key Matches This Week (all times central):
Lots of opportunities against ranked opponents this week. Start your viewing with #3 Nebraska @ #19 Creighton (who is fresh off of sweeping defending national champion Kentucky). Indiana and Illinois each get a chance to notch a road victory against ranked opposition and get noticed. And Minnesota continues their punishing non-conference schedule, joined by PSU, as the B1G/Pac-12 challenge takes place.
But the marquee matchup of the week, and of the entire non-conference schedule nationally, is defending national champion #8 Kentucky vising #2 Wisconsin on Friday night at 8:00 pm. While Kentucky’s recent loss to Creighton might dim the luster slightly, the NCAAF schedule is awful Friday night. Tune in and watch!!!
Wed. 9/8: #3 Nebraska @ #19 Creighton (FS1, 6:30 pm)
Fri. 9/10: #6 Purdue vs. #10 Louisville (FloSports, 2:00 pm)
Fri. 9/10: Indiana @ #21 Georgia Tech (no TV, 6:00 pm)
Fri. 9/10: #13 Minnesota vs. #14 Stanford (Eugene, OR) (Pac-12 Network, 6:00 pm)
Fri. 9/10: #3 Kentucky @ #2 Wisconsin (BTN, 8:00 pm)
Fri: 9/10: #18 Penn State @ #11 Oregon (Pac-12 Network, 9:00 pm)
Sat: 9/11: Illinois @ #19 Creighton (no TV, 10:30 am)
Sat: 9/11: #18 Penn State vs. #14 Stanford (Eugene, OR) (no TV, 6:00 pm)
Sat 9/11: #20 Utah @ #3 Nebraska (BTN+, 7:30 pm)
Sat: 9/11: #13 Minnesota @ #11 Oregon (no TV, 9:00 pm)
Sun: 9/12: #2 Wisconsin @ Marquette (FSN, 4:30)