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The Sett, Week 6: Penn State and Nebraska

Wisconsin takes an undefeated conference record into two matches against the upper crust of the Big Ten.

Wisconsin Athletics Communications

W (3-0) vs No. 17 Purdue

Watching the first two sets, there was this weird feeling that Wisconsin won in the same way No. 1 Baylor, No. 10 Marquette and No. 8 Washington had won sets against the Badgers. Purdue hung in there, but Wisconsin had just a little better setting and cleaner digs that Purdue couldn’t match, and the slightly better play resulted in two closely contested sets.

Then, Dana Rettke served an 8-0 run to take a 10-2 lead in the third set, and I wondered how it could get worse for Purdue. And then it did at 17-5! Seven Boilermaker attack errors derailed (train jokes!) its chances at even making it close before sending the Field House faithful home happy.

W (3-1) vs Indiana

There were plenty of things to like about the Badgers performance against an Indiana team that’s very much a work-in-progress. Even though the first block came early in the third set, the front line ended up with a dozen to help stymie the Hoosier attack.

Izzy Ashburn continued her excellent campaign behind the service line, tallying five aces and helping take control of the first and fourth sets with eight and seven-point runs, respectively. Three players had double-digit kills, and three others had double-digit digs. Aside from a dreadful 4-10-24 line from Madison Duello, it was a strong, balanced team effort.

Elsewhere Around The Conference

No. 2 Nebraska, No. 5 Penn State, No. 7 Minnesota and Michigan all join Wisconsin at 2-0 in conference play. No. 18 Illinois dropped a five-set match against the Cornhuskers, and Purdue lost at Minnesota.

Apparently, the Gophers did better against Indiana and Purdue than the Badgers did, as they took the weekly honors for Player (Stephanie Samedy), Defensive Player (CC McGraw) and Setter (Bayley McMenimen), while Michigan’s May Pertofsky took Freshman.

Oct 2nd - No. 5 Penn State

So far, the Nittany Lions have added to both sides of the ‘top teams are beating each other’ ledger. They’ve lost to No. 3 Stanford, beat No. 25 Oregon and split with No. 4 Pitt, and they have put up strong attacking numbers while doing it. Penn State’s conference-leading .285 hitting percentage is thanks to setter Gabby Blossom tossing to attackers Serena Gray and Kaitlyn Hord, who both hit over .400, as well as team kill leader Jonni Parker.

Oct 5th - at No. 2 Nebraska

Could the fourth match of conference play be a must-win? Nebraska already won at Illinois, and it doesn’t have another road game against a highly-ranked school until the second-to-last week of the season on the Minnesota-Wisconsin road trip. If Wisconsin wants to stay in the conference race, it needs to put a big L on Lincoln, something only Stanford has done so far.

In order to eek out a win, Wisconsin has to bring some stellar attacking. The Huskers defense holds opponents to a .143 attack percentage due in part to 15.63 digs and 2.5 blocks each set. And to throw more wood on the fire, their passionate fan base might be hungrier than normal.

How To Watch

Wednesday’s 8 p.m. match against Penn State and Saturday’s 7 p.m. game against Nebraska, are on Big Ten Network.

Other Games of Note

Illinois heads to Purdue on Sunday. With Wisconsin tussling with Penn State and Nebraska, there’s not a lot of other highly-ranked Big Ten teams available to play each other.

How Many Songs From a College Freshman Can You Recognize?

I recognize one, but strongly doubt I’ve actually heard it. Why did I do this to you? Why did I do this to me? I didn’t actually think Talking Heads would be on it. What good did that do me.