No. 1 Concordia-St. Paul
Concordia-St. Paul (20-1, 12-0 NSIC) heads off to North Dakota to take on the Minot State Beavers (9-12, 5-7 NSIC) and Mary (4-15, 1-11 NSIC) this weekend. Concordia will look to add on to its best winning streak since 2011, which is currently at 18, in the two matches.
Concordia moved into sole possession of first place after its fifth consecutive weekend sweep to begin the conference season. Concordia took down Sioux Falls 25-17, 25-16, 25-20 on Friday and held the Cougars to .107 hitting as a team. Saturday was much of the same as the Golden Bears took the three sets 25-15, 25-18, 25-16 and held the No. 6 SMSU Mustangs to an .092 attack percentage for the match.
Friday's match against the Minot State Beavers will be just their second meeting. Their first matchup came last season in MSU's first season in the NSIC. The Golden Bears won in straight sets in Minot and were led by Cassie Haag's 12 kills and Ellie Duffy's 10.
Saturday's matchup with the Mary Marauders is the 12th meeting between the two schools. CU has won the first 11 matches and had swept 10 of the 11. Back in 2007, the Marauders pushed the Golden Bears to five sets but were unable to get over the hump and get a win.
No. 2 Tampa
Tampa returns to action with a road match against rival Florida Southern on Friday.
With a torrid offensive effort, Tampa downed Rollins 3-1. Reigning AVCA National Player of the Week Berkley Whaley led the Spartanss with 20 kills to help give Tampa the victory. A outside hitter, Whaley posted a career high in kills (20) in a double-double effort for the UT squad.
The Spartans improve to 19-1 with a 7-0 tally in Sunshine State Conference matchups while the Tars dip to 17-5 with a 4-3 record in SSC play.
No. 3 Central Missouri
No. 4 Minnesota-Duluth
After facing its toughest home test yet this season last weekend, Minnesota-Duluth will hit the highway for another pair of tough Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference challenges this Friday and Saturday.
The No. 4 Bulldogs (20-2, 10-2 NSIC) downed NSIC foe St. Cloud St. on Tuesday night and have now won four consecutive on the road as they continue a three-game road trip through the southern side of the conference. UMD plays a ranked team for the fifth time in 2013 with its other opponent receiving votes in this week's American Volleyball Coaches Association poll.
No. 5 BYU-Hawaii
The Seasiders won't get much rest before their next match as they face off with Academy of Art on Friday night. On Wednesday, Shih Ting (Stella) Chen's 16 kills helped lead No. 5 BYU-Hawaii against the No. 23 Fresno Pacific Sunbirds in a 3-0 (25-18, 25-22, 25-22) victory.
Chen's 16 kills tied the match high to go along with two aces and 11 digs. Erica Willes added 11 kills and one solo block while Noel Pauga was big at the net with three solo blocks on the night.
No. 6 Southwest Minnesota State
Southwest Minnesota State will look to end its two-match skid at home this weekend versus Bemidji State and Minnesota-Crookston.
The Beavers currently ride a seven-match losing skid dating back to Sept. 28 when they defeated Upper Iowa in five sets. The Beavers are 5-15 overall and 1-11 in the NSIC. SMSU will put its 18-match winning streak against the Beavers on the line on Friday. Wayne Chadwick enters his fourth season at the helm of the Beaver volleyball program.
The Golden Eagles own a winning record thus far in 2013 posting an 11-9 overall record to go along with their even 6-6 conference record. The Golden Eagles have put together a three-match winning streak with wins against Minot State, Mary and Bemidji State. Brittany Looker leads the offensive attack with her 270 kills and 3.70 kill per set average. Lee Anderson is in his seventh season as head coach.
No. 7 West Texas A&M
West Texas A&M will take its unbeaten Lone Star Conference record on the road this weekend as it heads South to Kingsville, Texas, for a matchup with the Javelinas of Texas A&M-Kingsville. The Lady Buffs enter the weekend with an overall record of 19-3 with a perfect 9-0 mark in the LSC to sit alone atop the league standings.
The then-No. 9 Lady Buffs continued to roll through Lone Star Conference play this past weekend as they topped Midwestern State and Cameron at home to stretch their win streak to 13 matches.
The Lady Buffs also used the pair of home wins to extend their win streak at the WTAMU Fieldhouse to 20 matches dating back to last season. WT was led offensively by Halie Harton with 31 kills on the weekend while Laura Iwuchukwu tallied 15 kills and 6.0 blocks while Kameryn Hayes dished out 77 assists.
No. 8 Western Washington
Looking to bounce back following a rare home loss, Western Washington completes a four-match homestand this week, entertaining Seattle Pacific on Thursday and Montana State-Billings on Saturday in a pair of Great Northwest Athletic Conference contests at Sam Carver Gymnasium on the WWU campus.
The 14-2 Vikings fell one spot to No. 8 in this week's American Volleyball Coaches Association/NCAA Division II Top 25 Poll, following a split of two GNAC home matches last week. The defending conference champions are second in the league standings at 7-1 as they begin the second half of the GNAC season.
No. 9 Nebraska-Kearney
In the thick of the MIAA season, ninth-ranked Nebraska-Kearney has three matches during a five-day period starting Friday.
The Lopers (19-3, 5-2) host Southwest Baptist and Missouri Southern State on back-to-back days this weekend and then visits Fort Hays State on Tuesday night.
The Bearcats, which went 10-23 in 2012, are having one of their best seasons in recent history and are coming off a five-set win against Central Oklahoma on Tuesday night.
On a roster stocked with freshmen and sophomores, a balanced attack is led by 6-1 sophomore middle Nikki Madoch (2.53 kills per set & .259 attack pct.), junior outside/right side Mackynzi Gibson (2.12 kps) and 6-2 senior middle Jordan Nedbalek (2.11 kps & .324 attack pct.).
No. 10 Wingate
The Bulldogs return to action Friday, hosting Catawba.
On Tuesday, for the second time this year, the Queens Royals took the opening set against 10th-ranked Wingate and once again the Bulldogs responded by winning the next three sets to notch a 3-1 victory in South Atlantic Conference volleyball action.
Wingate won by scores of 23-25, 25-18, 25-9 and 25-22 to improve to 18-2 overall and 14-0 in the SAC. The Bulldogs have won 15 consecutive matches and 29 consecutive league contests. Queens falls to 7-9 overall and 7-7 in the conference.