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Big Ten volleyball recap: Nebraska, Penn State stay unbeaten ahead of first place showdown

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Plus even the Big Ten’s “lower ranked” teams are proving pesky.

2018 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship
All-American Lauren Stivrins of Nebraska returned to the Huskers lineup this past week.
Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

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:

  • Only two teams are still undefeated in conference play: Nebraska and Penn State. The Huskers had two sweeps against Michigan and Michigan State in Lincoln and got a boost in the return of All-American Lauren Stivrins. Stivrins played her first match of the season for Nebraska after she returned from a back injury that left her out early in the season. The Huskers smoked Michigan but the sets were a little closer against the Spartans.

Meanwhile Penn State scraped by with a five-set win against Maryland and a four set win against Indiana. The Terps had a two set lead before the Nittany Lions came back to win 3-2. PSU started to get their block going with 17 blocks and were able to hold off another big upset attempt by the Terps.

Funny enough, Penn State and Nebraska will face off this coming week, which means only one team can stay undefeated #math.

  • Purdue was one team that was also undefeated, but that is now obviously no longer the case. The Illinois Fighting Illini beat the Boilermakers in five sets in a roller coaster match (30-28, 15-25, 26-24, 18-25, 15-10) that saw two sets go to extra points and no team win consecutive sets.

Purdue had a season high 15 blocks and five players had double digit digs, but Illinois did just enough to squeak by the Boilermakers. Obviously, the Illini didn’t continue that streak and upset the Badgers, but their effort was good enough to now be in the “receiving votes” category in the polls. Purdue is now behind Wisconsin in the NCAA rankings.

  • Ohio State bounced back from two defeats last weekend to sweep both Indiana and Maryland this week. The Buckeyes now bounce back up one spot in the polls to No 7. Good for them.
  • After Minnesota lost to the Badgers in straight sets Friday, they avoided a scare against the Northwestern Wildcats, but stayed in it for a five-set win in a 3-2 reverse sweep (24-26, 19-25, 25-18, 31-29, 15-7).
Minnesota v Maryland
Stephanie Samedy remains an unstoppable killing machine.
Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images

Stephanie Samedy and Taylor Landfair both finished with over 20 kills in a match that clearly really tested the Gophers. The match was even throughout as the total points were 83-81 in favor of the Gophers — a good sign for the Wildcats’ program starting to rebuild.