Unbeaten streaks on the line
Amherst puts its best season start to the test vs. rival Williams
Who: No. 14 Amherst at No. 7 Williams
When: noon ET Saturday
Why: Amherst and Williams is always at the top of the list when it comes to Division III rivalries, but add to it the fact that both are ranked and it takes it up another notch.
|Amherst vs. Williams|
|Goals per game||2.57||1.88|
|Goals allowed per game||0.14||0.25|
The long-standing competition between the teams will spill onto the pitch Sunday as Amherst looks to extend the best start in school history. With a 2-0 victory to hand Tufts its first setback of the season last Saturday, the Lord Jeffs are now 7-0-0 on the year. Amherst leads the NESCAC in 11 categories, including posting the top offense in goals per game (3.47) and defense with a 0.14 goals-against average and seven shutouts. Sarah Duffy is second in the league with 18 points and seven goals while tying for the top spot with four assists.
The Ephs come into the matchup with a 4-1-1 mark in the series' last five matchups. While Williams has dominated the play lately, it's been anything but one-sided in the rivalry. In fact, the series record since play started in 1978 is 15-15-7.
Brett Eisenhart leads the Ephs with 11 points on five goals and an assist, ranking among the top five in the league in scoring. Defensively, Williams has gotten great production on its back line while Hannah Van Wetter leads the country in save percentage (.958) and has allowed just 0.21 goals per game to rank second in the league.
Who: No. 5 Creighton at No. 10 Indiana
When: 12:30 p.m. ET Sunday
Why: Creighton didn't give up a goal in its first eight games while getting out to its best start since 1993 and longest winning streak since 2000. That quickly changed when it suffered a 1-0 setback last week against No. 2 Maryland. The Bluejays, who were ranked third at the time of the loss, rebounded with a 2-1 victory Wednesday night, getting a golden goal from Greg Jordan 3:36 into overtime to nip Wisconsin on the road.
The Bluejays will continue tackling the Big Ten as they take on the Hoosiers on Sunday. CU brings one of the nation's top defenses into the matchup as it has eight shutouts through 10 contests while averaging 1.89 goals per game (33rd nationally). Indiana brings the same offensive balance, joining Creighton with 1.89 goals per game and has five shutouts of its own.
Who: No. 3 West Chester at No. 1 Bloomsburg
When: noon ET Saturday
Why: One of the top matchups in the nation will take place in Bloomsburg, Pa., on Saturday when top-ranked Bloomsburg takes on third-ranked West Chester. The Huskies ran their undefeated streak to 11 games on Wednesday with a 2-0 victory against C.W. Post to set up a matchup between the PSAC East's top teams.
Three-time defending PSAC tournament champion Bloomsburg is the only team in the country with an unblemished record thanks in part to its offense, which, despite losing six seniors last year, returned five its top six scorers from last year's national semifinals run. BU was fourth nationally with 4.2 goals per game entering the week and was in the top five of 10 team categories. Amanda Riley leads the way with 1.9 points per game to tie for 15th nationally along with two others, including West Chester's Nicole Fiorilla.
Who: No. 7 Northwest Missouri State at No. 19 Central Missouri
When: 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday
Why: This game would have been big anyway, but now Northwest Missouri State has a chip on its shoulder after seeing its 49-game MIAA winning streak snapped on a Pittsburg State field as time expired last week.
The Bearcats and Mules come into the matchup with each averaging better than 430 total offense yards per game. NWMS gets it done on the ground but can also put it in the air, while Central Missouri likes grabbing big yardage behind QB Tommy Corwin, the reigning MIAA Offensive Player of the Week. In his last outing, Corwin posted four touchdown passes and a pair of rushing scores to rally the Mules to a 42-16 victory last weekend after trailing by 10 points early in the contest. He is third nationally in total offense, much of the time aiming for WR Jamar Howard, who leads the country with 143.0 receiving yards per game. Together, they have helped the Mules rank fourth nationally in passing.
Northwest Missouri State likes to spread the ball around, with three players rushing for at least 50 yards per game, while QB B Christopher has averaged 286.0 yards through the air. He has completed better than 70 percent of his passes and has just one interception in 74 attempts.
Who: No. 1 Illinois at No. 8 Penn State
When: 8 p.m. ET Saturday
Why: Illinois, Division I volleyball's last undefeated team, puts its perfect mark on the line against a pair of top-25 teams this weekend when it hits the road to face No. 25 Ohio State and No. 8 Penn State. In their last outing in front of the second-largest crowd in Huff Hall history, the Illini ousted Purdue from the ranks of the unbeaten, as the Boilermakers were the only other team in the country at that time without a loss. Illinois' 15-0 start to the season is the second-best in school history, trailing only the 30-0 mark from the 1985 squad, which never reached No. 1 in the rankings.
|Illinois at Penn State|
|Kills per set||13.9||12.9|
|Digs per set||15.5||12.7|
|Blocks per set||2.5||2.7|
Illinois, one of seven Big Ten teams ranked in the top 25, hopes to stop a trend against the Nittany Lions as the Illini have lost 15 consecutive matches in State College, Pa. UI's last road victory in the series came in 1995, and since then the Illini have not taken a single set.
The Illini's offense runs through setter Annie Luhrsen, who is 18th in assists per set (11.41). Erin Johnson has taken full advantage of Luhrsen's accuracy, as Johnson ranks 19th nationally by attacking at a .395 clip. Michelle Bartsch is also back at it again as the All-American has moved up to eighth on the Illini's all-time kills list as she now has 1,325 to her credit.
Penn State enters the weekend with an 11-4 record, with three of its losses coming against top-10 teams. On Wednesday, it survived a 3-2 thriller against Northwestern, its fourth five-set match of the season. Overall, the four-time defending national champions have had eight sweeps and seven matches go four or five sets.
Despite the uncharacteristic losses, the Nittany Lions feature a bevy of All-Americans across the court. Deja McClendon leads the way with 3.43 kills per set. She isn't the only offensive threat as PSU features one of the few offenses in the country with two players with at least 3.0 kills per set, as Ariel Scott adds 3.13.
Who: No. 3 Maryland at No. 8 Duke
When: 1 p.m. ET Saturday
Why: Maryland takes a 14-game Atlantic Coast Conference winning streak on the road as the No. 3 Terps take on eighth-ranked Duke. UM has sprinted to a 10-1 record, including winning its last eight consecutive games, behind a scoring offense that entered the week ranked fourth nationally. The Terps are recording 4.09 goals per game while posting a 4.05 scoring average. Jill Witmer and Jemma Buckley each rank in the top 20 for points per game, scoring 2.27 and 2.18 per contest, respectively, for the high-powered Terrapin offense.
Duke will counter with goalkeeper Samantha Nelson, who has played all 839 minutes in net and allowed just 15 goals. Her 1.25 goals-against average is 10th nationally but will be tested as the Terps hold a +2.43 scoring margin, eighth in the country. The Terps will try to use the strong offense to their advantage as they look for their 27th win in 37 all-time meetings with the Blue Devils.
Who: No. 2 Cal at No. 3 UCLA
When: 10 p.m. ET Friday
Why: UCLA opens its MPSF schedule this week after finishing third at the SoCal Tournament last weekend. The Bruins held off USC 7-6 in the third-place matchup for their first victory against the Trojans since 2009.
UCLA hopes to use time to regroup and that momentum from the USC matchup when it faces Cal for the second time in a week. The Golden Bears were the ones who knocked the Bruins out of the winner's bracket at the SoCal tourney with a 6-5 win. It gave Cal a season split to date as UCLA won the first matchup on Sept. 18 in the NorCal Tournament.
The race for the MPSF title is wide open as nine league squads have lost at least twice this fall.
Who: No. 3 California (Pa.) at No. 16 Kutztown
When: 2 p.m. ET Saturday
Why: California puts its unbeaten streak on the line twice this weekend as it faces Mansfield on Friday and then follows with a key PSAC clash against 16th-ranked Kutztown on Saturday. The Vulcans tied Indiana (Pa.) 2-2 in overtime in their last outing, snapping a three-match win streak. At 7-0-2, Cal U. leads the league with 17 points and is unbeaten in seven league matchups.
Cal U. eased by Kutztown last year in the regular season by a 1-0 mark before taking an overtime matchup in the 2010 PSAC semifinals. This year, the Golden Bears have been getting outstanding play from goalkeeper Casey Behrendt who has allowed just 0.70 goals per game. The defense will be needed as the Vulcans are gaining 3.22 goals per match, an average that ranks sixth nationally and well above Kutztown's 2.2 goals per contest.
Who: Maryland at No. 13 Georgia Tech
When: noon ET Saturday
Why: Off to its best start since 1990, Georgia Tech returns home to face Maryland, who is under the direction of first-year coach Randy Edsall, the Yellow Jacket's defensive coordinator in 1998. Edsall and Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson have a history as they coached against each other when Edsall was at Connecticut and Johnson was at Navy.
|Maryland at Georgia Tech|
Like his Midshipmen before, Johnson's Yellow Jackets are busting up opponents with a devestating ground attack. GT leads the nation with 378.2 rushing yards per game and is second in the country with 51.6 points per contest and 587.0 total offense yards per game. The strong stats, which include three touchdowns on the opening offensive play of the game this year, have pushed the Yellow Jackets high in NCAA.com's statistics-based Power Rankings and into the national spotlight after a 6-7 record last season. Despite the record, Georgia Tech did compete in a bowl game last year and will look to extend its streak to 15 consecutive years being bowl eligible with one more win this season.
The Terps will answer with QB Danny O'Brien, who has completed 95 of 150 passes for 913 yards and four touchdowns. O'Brien, the 2010 ACC Rookie of the Year, will be pushing his team against the first of three consecutively-ranked ACC opponents. On the opposite side of the ball, LB Kenny Tate has helped Maryland rank among the most ball-hungry squads as UM is 12th nationally with 12 forced turnovers.
Game information compiled from and photos courtesy of respective athletic department websites.