Around the Big Ten: Volleyball
With conference play well underway in the college volleyball world, it’s time to take a look at one of the best conferences in the Big Ten. Like last week, the Big Ten features six teams ranked with the AVCA top-25: No. 3 Wisconsin, No. 6 Purdue, No. 7 Ohio State, No. 9 Nebraska, No. 12 Minnesota and No. 15 Penn State.
Let’s take a look at how these teams fared over the weekend and what’s coming up this weekend.
Too much corn for the Nittany Lions to husk
Last Friday, it was a top-15 showdown in Happy Valley for first place in the Big Ten as Penn State took on Nebraska. It was a competitive match, the hitters of Nebraska proved to be too much for the Nittany Lions, as the Cornhuskers won the match in four sets, 3-1.
Madi Kubik, Ally Batenhorst and Lindsay Krause fueled Nebraska, with the trio posting 19, 15 and 11 kills, respectively. Jonni Parker and Kaitlyn Hord were the top performers for Penn State, with both putting up 11 kills.
Penn State would respond however the following day with a four-set win of their own over Northwestern, 3-1. The Nittany Lions hit .372 as a team, where Parker and Hord were once again on top of the stat sheet picking up 14 and 13 kills.
Penn State is back at home on Friday for their annual “Dig Pink Match” where they’ll face Rutgers. The Nittany Lions swept the Scarlet Knights earlier to open up Big Ten play.
Nebraska continued its dominant run of form and stayed perfect in Big Ten play with sweeps over Rutgers and Indiana. Kubik paced the Cornhuskers in both matches, notching 11 and 16 kills.
Nebraska closes out the weekend with a date at home against the Fighting Illini of Illinois on Saturday.
A tough weekend is on the horizon for Purdue
Purdue has had a good start to conference play, but the road ahead is tough as the Boilermakers will face three top-15 teams in their next four matches. It starts on Friday when they travel to Columbus to face No. 7 Ohio State.
Purdue topped the Buckeyes in the Big Ten opener in West Lafayette, 3-2. Both Caitlyn Newton and Grace Cleveland had 15 kills for Purdue, while Emily Londot produced 20 kills for Ohio State.
The Buckeyes have looked great since dropping two-straight to begin Big Ten play, winning four-straight. On Sunday, Londot paced Ohio State with 12 kills as they brought out the brooms against Michigan.
Purdue avenged an earlier loss to Illinois, winning in five sets last Wednesday. The Boilermakers finished the weekend with a sweep over Iowa, with Newton and Cleveland leading the way once again.
Following Ohio State on Friday, Purdue will return home to face Penn State on Sunday at 2 p.m. on ESPN2. The Nittany Lions are 39-3 all-time against the Boilermakers.
The Upper Midwest continues to perform
The final pair of top teams in the Big Ten is No. 3 Wisconsin and No. 12 Minnesota. The Badgers sit at 5-1 in Big Ten play and 13-1 overall, while the Golden Gophers are 5-2 against Big Ten opponents and 10-5 on the season.
Wisconsin opened up conference play with a loss on the road to Maryland in five sets, since then they’ve won five straight matches, including a sweep over Minnesota. Most recently, the Badgers took care of Illinois, 3-1 in four sets.
Four-time All-American Dana Rettke led the team in kills with 15 and hit at a .438 clip in the victory.
Wisconsin will stay in the Upper Midwest as they travel to face Michigan on Friday and Michigan State on Saturday.
Rounding things out with No. 12 Minnesota, who lost to Michigan, 3-2 in a five-set thriller last Friday. The Golden Gophers responded with two-straight wins, including Wednesday night’s sweep over Northwestern.
It was a team effort for Minnesota as multiple players hit well thanks to Melani Shaffmaster facilitating the offense. Shaffmaster had 30 assists on the night to go along with seven digs.
Minnesota’s next match is Sunday when they face the Indiana Hoosiers, who are currently 2-5 in conference play.
Matthew Scalzo is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.