With the Big Ten being the best conference for volleyball in the nation and the Badgers coincidentally being part of that, we are going to do a weekly wrap of all the important Big Ten action — along with the occasional recap of the big games across the country.
Without further ado, the Bucky’s Fifth Quarter Big Ten volleyball roundup:
- The biggest change in the conference this week involves the Purdue Boilermakers (6-2 Big Ten, 14-3 overall), who had two top-15 battles this past weekend and split them.
On Friday night, the Boilermakers lost in four sets (23-25, 21-25, 25-19, 21-25) to the Ohio State Buckeyes (6-2, 16-2) in Columbus, who jumped them in the polls to become No. 6 in the nation. Purdue might have dominated the block against Ohio State to the tune of 19 blocks to nine, but OSU found a way to get past the Boilermakers in part from the stellar play of Mia Grunze who led the way with 17 kills for the Buckeyes.
✅ Average a Big Ten-best 5.78 digs per set— Purdue Volleyball (@PurdueVB) October 18, 2021
✅ Set the Big Ten season-high with 27 digs vs. Penn State
✅ Become the 6th Boilermaker this century to post back-to-back 25+ dig matches@jotec12 doesn't mess around. https://t.co/KDT63ZgcwY
Purdue then played host to the then-No. 15 Penn State Nittany Lions (6-2, 13-5) and beat them in five sets 3-2 (25-23, 15-25, 20-25, 25-23, 15-11). Caitlyn Newton had a monster night for the Boilermakers as she had 26 kills to help Purdue complete the comeback. The Boilermakers shrugged off a tough second and third set to dominate in the fifth set, hitting .450 percent in the clincher.
PSU had big nights of 20 or more kills from Joni Parker and Kaitlyn Hord, but Newton really turned it on for Purdue to get the win.
- The only team who stayed unbeaten in Big Ten play so far are the Nebraska Cornhuskers (8-0, 14-3). The Huskers took care of home contests against Indiana and Illinois with two sweeps.
Junior outside hitter Madi Kubik is finding her feet for Nebraska. She had 16 kills first against the Hoosiers then tied a season-high with 19 kills against the Illini. The Huskers will likely stretch their undefeated record on Wednesday when they play last place Iowa, but have a tough test against Purdue this weekend.
- The Minnesota Golden Gophers (6-2, 11-5) also took care of business this weekend — rounding out the four teams tied for third in the Big Ten. Minnesota swept Northwestern and Indiana in dominant fashion both nights.
Outside hitter Stephanie Samedy had double digit kills in both games as did senior outside hitter Airi Miyabe. The Japanese native has steadily become another attacking option for the Gophers as the season has worn on, and she hit efficiently against the Wildcats and Hoosiers, hitting .409 and.345 those two nights.
- All of these results set up for a huge weekend for the Big Ten race. Nebraska is currently leading the way unbeaten at 8-0 with Wisconsin second in the standings at 7-1. Then there is the logjam of Purdue, Ohio State, Minnesota and Penn State all tied at 6-2.
Same 8⃣ @B1GVolleyball teams in latest AVCA poll:— Emily Ehman (@emilyehman) October 18, 2021
▪️ #3 @BadgerVB, #9 @Huskervball & #12 @GopherVBall stay
▪️ #6 @OhioStateWVB & #7 @PurdueVB flip-flop
▪️ #14 @PennStateVBALL moves up 1
▪️ @IlliniVBall & @umichvball continue to receive votes https://t.co/eB1vCqcprQ
Wisconsin and Minnesota both host Ohio State and Penn State this weekend. Meanwhile, Purdue will play Nebraska. This is a huge volleyball weekend at the top, and Michigan and Illinois — who are both still receiving votes and tied in the conference at 4-4 — can also hope to get back in the conference scrap when they face each other on Saturday.