W (3-1) vs No. 8 Penn State
The first two sets were the high-level, competitive volleyball that you’d expect from preseason top-10 teams. The first was tight throughout, with neither team getting a lead larger than three. A late Wisconsin four-point run, caused by some Badger blocking, brought some life into the crowd, but Penn State was able to dash to the finish line and escape with a 25-23 win.
In the second set, Penn State’s 16-12 lead vanished when Sydney Hilley started a 8-1 run with two aces. The Badgers were able to withstand the Nittany Lions late charge to finish by their own 25-23 score.
Then Wisconsin was at their highest level of play all season and took the last two sets with 25-13 scores. There was a lot of this.
Seriously, a lot - Grace Loberg finished with 21 kills.
PSA : @gv11loberg has been spotted with a cannon attached to her right shoulder, all opponents are advised to clear the Field House immediately‼️— Wisconsin Volleyball (@BadgerVB) October 3, 2019
That's a new season-high 15 kills for her, and we're just getting started...#Badgers pic.twitter.com/Zv1bS2vVCj
Wisconsin was able to get into their offense and execute, especially in moving the attacker horizontally. Meanwhile, Penn State’s attempts would either get stuffed at the net or gravitate to a Badger defender. PSU’s Jonni Parker put in a Sisyphean 15-8-52 line. Give her one of those ice wraps pitchers use after games.
W (3-0) AT NO. 5 NEBRASKA
All right. Who wants some? How about it?
Who wants to have a little?
All right you primitive corn-heads, listen up. See this?
THIS IS MY BROOMSTICK.
Those stats being similar show exactly how close this match was. All three sets were nail-biting affairs where neither team had more than a four-point run, and Nebraska was able to outperform Wisconsin in a few areas, notching more kills and digs. In the end, the handful of additional attacking errors and better Badger performance from the service line provided Wisconsin the slim 25-22, 25-21, 25-22 margins of victory.
This was the most exciting Big 10 game played on Saturday by far.
Elsewhere Around The Conference
Sydney Hilley gets the Badgers back on the conference weekly awards, taking both Setter and Player of the Week honors. No. 17 Illinois’ Ashley Fleming got 11 blocks and the Defensive honors, and Freshman was split between fellow Illini Diana Brown and Michigan’s May Pertofsky, her second in a row.
Nationally, Izzy Ashburn was noticed for her work on the court as well.
The first batch of RPI rankings came out as well, which see Wisconsin at No. 6 in the country. Seeding plays a massive role in the NCAA tournament, as generally the top-16 seeds host the first two rounds, and the top-four host regionals. Currently, the top-four are Baylor - Texas - Stanford - Washington. One advantage of the overall depth of the Big 10 is that quality wins are easier to find. There’s six Big 10 schools in the top-30, compared to four each from the Big XI and Pac-12.
Let’s finish with Glass Joe celebrating a massive moral victory against Minnesota.
Tonight's 25-19 third-set win over No. 7 Minnesota is the team's highest ranked set victory since Nov. 26, 2014 against No. 2 Wisconsin.#RUVB pushed the Golden Gophers to four sets in a Big Ten loss on Saturday evening. pic.twitter.com/thJBp6Ijgw— Rutgers Volleyball (@RUvball) October 6, 2019
Oct 9th - at Northwestern
This season, the high level college volleyball teams have butted heads during non-conference play. Nebraska, Stanford, Washington, Minnesota Wisconsin, Penn State, Texas, Florida, BYU, Marquette, Baylor, Illinois and Pitt all have played multiple matches with each other. It’s been helpful to be able to scroll down upcoming opponents schedules and say ‘That’s a team on the Badger’s level, how’d they perform?’
Northwestern has chosen the route of ‘we won’t get wins in the Big 10, so let’s try for non-conference play.’ Their first ranked opponents were back-to-back sweeps at the hands of Nebraska and at Purdue. Most of their season stats are middle of the road, although Temi Thomas-Ailara is 2nd in the conference at 4.30 kills per set.
Oct 13th - No. 6 Minnesota
Minnesota currently sits perfect in conference play, but their only real test has been against Purdue. In non-conference play, they’ve beat Stanford, Florida and Oregon, but were swept at Texas and against Florida State. They have a deep attacking lineup, with five different players averaging over 2.5 kills a match. Defensively their 18.87 digs per set mark is fifth in the country.
This Border Battle is the only top-10 match in this week of college volleyball, and it’s going to be electric. Seriously, it’s a sold-out match, and StubHub’s cheapest tickets are $25 right now. Whereas in Minnesota...
How To Watch
Both Wednesday’s 6 p.m. game against Northwestern and Sunday’s 3 p.m. match against Minnesota will be available on BTN, if you are unable to get in the Field House and are unwilling to travel to Evanston for any reason.
Other Games Of Note
Minnesota’s midweek trip to Illinois follows Wisconsin’s game against Northwestern Wednesday. Sunday, Michigan takes their currently perfect conference record to Nebraska, where they... face their first ranked opponent all season?
How My Anteaters Doin’?
— UCI W Volleyball (@UCIwvb) October 5, 2019
FOR THE FIRST TIME IN SCHOOL HISTORY THE 'EATERS TAKE DOWN NO. 11 HAWAII IN A 5-SET THRILLER! #RipEm
UCI may be out of alarm emojis now but they absolutely made ‘em count.