Every day at VolleyMob we will preview several of the most notable and interesting matches in NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball. We will offer an inside look at some of those top matchups each day as we carry along through the 2017 season.
The weekend is finally coming as it kicks off with some titanic clashes on the volleyball court on Friday night. With the Big Ten and Pac-12 in action, that is always a recipe for high-level matches. It’s only added to by other schools and conferences as 23 teams who are either ranked or on the cusp continue their season with a match tonight. Furthering that, five matches occur between teams in that classification on a day that will heavily influence next week’s power rankings.
*Note: VolleyMob Power Rankings Top 25 is utilized for a team’s ranking
*The entire week’s schedule can be seen here.
THE BIG MATCH:
#4 Minnesota (12-1, 1-1) at #10 Nebraska (9-3, 2-0) – 6 pm ET
Not only does this top-10 clash occur in Lincoln, Nebraska, but it also features the 2015 Big Ten champion (Minnesota) facing the 2016 conference-winner (Nebraska). Add to it that both matches last year went to five sets, something this one could easily have in common.
The home team, Nebraska, is off to a 2-0 Big Ten start that includes two sweeps. The second against Rutgers wasn’t a surprise, but it was shocking to see the Cornhuskers go into University Park and sweep Penn State (the first time the Nittany Lions have been swept on their home floor in 15 years). It seems some of their injuries may finally be healing, as notably Briana Holman played through an injury in that Penn State match to log 13 kills while hitting .750. The crowd should be even crazier than usual for Big Red too, as Jordan Larson is having her jersey retired.
Minnesota will look to come in on the road and score a big win in their Big Ten road debut of 2017. They have plenty of new faces that will have to overcome the difficult crowd, but they will have the veteran presence of setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson to guide the way after she logged 59 assists and 19 digs in the team’s last meeting with Nebraska. Speaking of that match, Minnesota overcame a 2-0 deficit to win 17-15 in the fifth in the final week of the 2016 regular season. The Golden Gophers could use this win after getting swept at home by Michigan State last week, as it would both help their confidence and Big Ten title hopes to avoid an early second conference loss.
OTHER NOTABLE MATCHES:
(RV) Illinois (11-2, 2-0) at #2 Penn State (11-1, 1-1) – 7:30 pm ET
Illinois wasn’t a tournament team last year but with a strong recruiting class and a host of returners they look to be one in 2017 as they’re off to a 2-0 start in conference. Things get more difficult on the road against a Penn State eager to prove the Nebraska home loss was a one-time thing. The middle blocker matchup of Haleigh Washington (.495 hitting percentage, 1.48 blocks per set) against Ali Bastianelli (.491 hitting percentage, 1.90 blocks per set) should be an intriguing detail of the match as well.
#12 Oregon (8-2, 1-1) at #14 Utah (11-2, 2-0) – 8 pm ET
Oregon had a seven-match winning streak snapped in their previous outing, although it was a strong effort in a road loss to a top-20 UCLA team. They don’t have an easy match to rebound with, but do have an opportunity to score another marquee win and fend off a team pushing the Ducks for a top-three conference finish. Utah meanwhile looks to stay unbeaten in conference play after wins over a ranked Colorado bunch and Cal last week.
#6 Washington (12-1, 2-0) at #17 UCLA (8-3, 1-1) – 10 pm ET
Washington did go 2-0 last week, but they had some trouble after defeating Washington State and needed five sets to overcome Arizona State. Now they get an even tougher road test against a UCLA bunch who did lose at home to USC but also earned a top-10 win over Oregon. The Bruins will need to slow down All-American Courtney Schwan if they want the victory, as the Washington outside hitter netted 27 kills and hit .440 in last year’s four-set win for the Huskies.
BEST OF THE REST:
Tennessee (8-3, 1-1) at #1 Florida (9-0, 1-0) – 7 pm ET
#20 Iowa State (10-2, 1-1) at Texas Tech (12-3, 1-1) – 7 pm ET
Maryland (12-2, 1-1) at #18 Michigan State (9-2, 2-0) – 7 pm ET
Miami (FL) (8-0, 2-0) at (RV) Notre Dame (10-3, 0-2) – 7 pm ET
(RV) Ohio State (9-4, 2-0) at (RV) Michigan (10-4, 0-2) – 8 pm ET
#7 Wisconsin (10-1, 1-1) at Iowa (12-3, 1-1) – 8 pm ET