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:
- While the Nebraska Cornhuskers (6-1 overall) took down ranked, in-state rival Creighton in straight sets this weekend, the then-No. 3 Huskers lost in stunning fashion on Saturday to the No. 20 ranked Utah Utes in five sets 3-2. That is despite Nebraska holding a 2-0 set lead.
A key for Utah was fifth year outside hitter Dani Drews, who had 27 kills and 16 digs for an impressive double double, including nine kills in the third set that gave the Utes hope. Outside hitter Zoe Weatherington also had 17 kills, more than any of Nebraska’s top attackers in the game.
This is a huge upset in the Big Ten and gives Utah a big push to get up higher into the rankings in a tough Pac-12 race too. The Huskers face another ranked Pac-12 foe in No. 14 Stanford on Tuesday, in what could be another tough contest, especially after this match went for three hours.
- Speaking of Big Ten teams losing to Pac-12 competition, the Penn State Nittany Lions (5-3 overall) lost two matches in Eugene to Oregon in straight sets and Stanford in five sets.
The Nittany Lions had 46 kills against the Ducks. That’s pretty good! But 25 errors...not so much as they dropped the contest in straight sets. Then PSU lost a five-set thriller to Stanford as the Cardinal pulled away in the fifth set. Though the teams traded closely-contested frames in sets one through four, Stanford won 15-7 in the last set as the Cardinal hit a stunning .455 in the closer.
- The other Big Ten team to visit Eugene, the Minnesota Golden Gophers (3-3 overall), fared better as they beat both Stanford 3-1 and Oregon 3-2 in their West Coast swing. Stephanie Samedy had a bit more help from Minnesota in her typically incredible performances. Samedy had 20 kills in both contests while Jenna Wenaas and Airi Miyabe had double digit kills in both matches.
One incredible note is the Gophers had 21 kills in the fourth set against Stanford. That means over 80 percent of their points were kills, which must have been brutal for the Cardinal. The Gophers’ schedule also eases up this weekend with matches against St. Thomas and Iowa State before conference play opens up.
- The No. 6 Purdue Boilermakers also had a loss this weekend, getting swept by No. 10 Louisville in Cincinnati. The Boilermakers struggled offensively, hitting only .124 percent against the Cardinals as Louisville led in every statistical category. Purdue bounced back the next day with a 3-0 sweep of Lipscomb. Next week, they’ll host three teams in West Lafayette before opening conference play against the Buckeyes.
- Speaking of those Buckeyes, the volleyball team played better than their football counterparts, sweeping VCU and Virginia this weekend.
- And one team that might be soon coming up into the Top 25 is the Maryland Terrapins. The Terps are 9-0 so far this season and led on offense by sophomore outside hitter Sam Csire who is averaging 3.77 kills per set. On the back end, perhaps no one in the conference has played as well as freshman libero Milan Gomillion, who is averaging an eye-watering 5.17 digs per set.
Now, Maryland’s non-conference schedule has not been all that tough, and that trend continues this week. We’ll certainly know how the Terps are doing in two weeks, when they host the Badgers to start Big Ten play.